Thousands face disease after fleeing conflict – El Financiero

More than 140,000 South Sudanese women and children who recently arrived in White Nile State after fleeing Khartoum since the start of the conflict in Sudan now face huge uncertainties in terms of food, shelter, health care, water and sanitation at 10 reception sites. Meet the needs. According to local authorities, the camps can hold about 387,000 people. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams working in some of these camps have been overwhelmed by dozens of new suspected cases of measles and malnutrition among children.

“More people are arriving every day, and the numbers are increasing. In turn, this increases the need to provide better health care, food and shelter,” said Ali Mohamed Daou, director of medical activities at MSF. Ali Mohammed Dawoud said.

In June, MSF teams started supporting three Ministry of Health clinics providing primary health care in Umm Sangul and Alagaya refugee camps and Ajwal Bay (displaced Sudanese in Blue Nile State). Recently, MSF has also started supporting the therapeutic feeding center at the Kashafa camp hospital, which is treating around 50 children with severe acute malnutrition, some of whom were referred from other camps.

The Um Sangour camp was originally planned to hold about 30,000 people, but now has the capacity to accommodate more than 70,000 people. The needs in these overcrowded refugee camps are enormous and growing. “The most common diseases affecting the community here, especially children under the age of five, are measles, pneumonia and malnutrition,” Ali said.

“When we arrived, the death toll was already high. We had an average of 15-20 suspected cases of measles per day and six deaths in the first week. Sadly, most of those who died were under the age of five. We worked with Together, the Ministry of Health established an isolation center to provide the girls and boys with the necessary care.”

“Currently, we are conducting an average of 300 to 350 consultations per day, including 30 to 40 suspected cases of measles,” Ali continued. “We also have a delivery room for pregnant women, deliver one or two deliveries a day, and do 20 to 30 antenatal care sessions for pregnant women. We provide routine immunization services for 30 to 40 children a day.”

For weeks, MSF has been working with local health authorities to mobilize the measles vaccine available in the country to mass vaccinate girls and boys in White Nile State. At the same time, in order to expand humanitarian medical activities, we need a significant increase in staff, including more international experts, because the teams working on the ground are already overstretched and exhausted.

Ongoing conflict has left Sudan with no laboratory capacity to identify disease outbreaks. Across the border, in the towns of Renk and Malakal in South Sudan, an outbreak of measles has been confirmed among people fleeing conflict. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people have crossed the border from Sudan into South Sudan.

Ninety percent of the measles patients MSF treated and tested in Malakal were not vaccinated, pointing to a disruption in Sudan’s routine vaccination programme.

“My niece has a fever, diarrhea and vomiting,” said Philip*, a young man, waiting with his sister and daughter at a clinic in White Nile state. “Although he prescribed medicine, we couldn’t find it in the pharmacy. Unfortunately, there was a severe shortage of medicine. Measles was taking lives fast. Fever, it turned out, was deadly. If someone was sick in the morning, they often didn’t survive the night. “

In another part of the clinic, Hamida*, a pregnant woman who is waiting with her sick baby, describes other challenges people face.

“Our neighborhood has been heavily shelled. My family of eight and I fled Khartoum two months ago. Our situation here is challenging because we are new arrivals and we have not received any help. We have had a hard time finding food. So far we have only received plastic tarps. Many are waiting for food and shelter materials; no space for shelter. Conditions are extremely harsh; many are living outdoors for lack of adequate shelter. The water is dirty, It will cause the disease.If you drink water, you will have diarrhea and start to vomit.

The annual rainy season has begun, which could lead to an increase in the prevalence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and malaria in the region.

In these overcrowded camps, people have few options to support themselves or their families and are completely dependent on assistance. Some received some food through refugees and relatives who were already living in camps before the current conflict broke out.

As more people arrive, increased assistance, including nutritional support and providing shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and measles vaccines, is urgently needed to contain the outbreak. This urgently requires more staff, including those experienced in managing such crises and emergencies, and ensuring shorter supply routes from abroad directly to White Nile State.

In just over three months of intense fighting in Sudan, more than three million people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. More than 2.1 million people have sought asylum in Sudan. According to the International Organization for Migration, White Nile State has one of the highest numbers of displaced people, along with West Darfur, the Nile State and the northern states.

*Names have been changed to maintain anonymity.

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