Save the Children warns of cholera outbreak in Sudan capital

Thousands of corpses are reported to be decomposing on the streets of Khartoum, with mortuaries at breaking point due to power outages and insufficient capacity to store the bodies, putting families and children at increasing risk of diseases, Save the Children reported yesterday.

“A horrifying combination of rising numbers of corpses, severe water shortages, non-functioning hygiene and sanitation services, and lack of water treatment options are also prompting fears of a cholera outbreak in the city,” the London-based international organisation warned in its press release on Tuesday

“Prolonged power shortages have left the city’s morgues without refrigeration, leaving bodies to decompose in the heat, and causing the risk of major diseases outbreaks in the city.”

Out of 89 main hospitals in the capital and states, 71 are out of service, with the remainder operating at partial capacity. Some health facilities have been occupied by armed groups, taking life-saving treatment from millions of children and their families, with at least 53 attacks on health care facilities resulting in 11 deaths since April.

Save the Children expressed its concerns that because of the absence of a functioning public health laboratory, “through which a cholera outbreak would normally be reported”, it will be difficult to assess the state of the crisis.

“The healthcare system in Sudan is hanging by a thread. As casualties increase, hospitals are closing, completely emptied of medicines and doctors, and looted of any remaining supplies,” Doctor Bashir Kamal Eldin Hamid, Save the Children’s Health and Nutrition director said.

“The inability to give those who have died a dignified burial is yet another element of the suffering of families in Khartoum. We are seeing a health crisis in the making, on top of a crisis of sorrow, fear, and pain. Where hospitals are still open, they are stretched beyond capacity and nearly non-functional due to staff fatigue and a lack of supplies.”

Across the country, at least 2,435 children have been killed or injured since the violent conflict started between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces in mid-April.

“Save the Children currently supports nearly over 100 health and nutrition facilities across Sudan, including eight mobile clinics,” the press statement reads. “Since the escalation of the conflict, Save the Children has imported some 37 tons of emergency medical supplies and drugs, and has implemented a large vaccination campaign targeting children to protect them against preventable diseases, such as cholera, polio, and measles.”

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