15 attacks on health facilities and workers in two months – a global issue

according to WhoRegional Director Eastern Mediterranean, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the Organization is following the escalating crisis with “great concern”.

So far, 11 incidents have been confirmed in the capital Khartoum and other cities.

“Most of these attacks were carried out against healthcare workers in the form of physical assault, obstruction, violent searches and related psychological threats and intimidation”, said Dr. Al-Mandhari.

At least two confirmed incidents involved attacks and intrusions on facilities by military personnel, he said. Others include arrests of patients and workers, as well as injuries, detentions and forced searches.

“These targeted attacks on health care workers, patients and facilities are in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and must stop now,” the WHO official added.

Reports of the increase in attacks come against the backdrop of widespread and ongoing protests across Sudan in October over a sweeping military takeover that ended a transitional civilian power-sharing arrangement.

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Dr Al-Mandharisaid also knew that ambulances, personnel and patients were stopped in their quest for safety.

UN agencies are concerned about how these actions could severely limit access to health care Coronavirus disease Epidemics and other public health threats.

The incidents have already led to the suspension of emergency services at some facilities. Some patients and medical staff also fled without completing treatment.

“Healthcare workers who have sworn to save the lives of others must be allowed to work without fear or concern for their personal well-being or the well-being of their patients,” Dr Al-Mandhari said.

and Coronavirus disease Remaining a significant threat, with people at risk of diseases such as dengue, malaria, measles and hepatitis E, the agency said it was “a top priority” for the health sector to continue to operate unimpeded.

WHO calls for an immediate cessation of all activities that endanger the lives of health care workers and patients or impede the delivery of essential health services.

The head of the regional agency also called on the authorities to enforce Sudan’s Law on the Protection of Doctors, Medical Personnel and Health Institutions, ratified in 2020, and to comply with international humanitarian law.

Patients in a dressing room at a medical facility in Sudan.

For Dr Al-Mandhari, “The sanctity and safety of healthcare…must be respected and neutral, even in a highly politicized context. “

cases rise

WHO considers the number of events to be of great concern, especially since the country has recorded a relatively small number of events in previous years.

There was only one in 2020, and in 2019 — despite widespread social and political unrest surrounding the overthrow of former ruler Omar al-Bashir — only seven were registered.

Last year, the country recorded 26 such attacks, killing 4 medical staff and patients and injuring 38.

Most incidents were direct attacks on workers, an unusual pattern compared to other countries.

WHO is working with the Sudanese Federal Ministry of Health and partners to ensure the hospital continues to operate.

The organization has trained dozens of doctors and medical staff in all states. With the support of partners, it has also distributed several new ambulances.

Since the end of October, the agency has distributed 856 rapid response kits to Khartoum and other key states, enough to meet the needs of 1.1 million people for three months.