Some died at home. What is the situation of chronically ill people in Sudan? | Policy

Khartoum – Due to the lack of treatment and high costs, as well as the ongoing journey of displacement… Khartoum(MN)’s suffering did not help him much in life after contracting cancer and he died while trying to save money for treatment in the Malawi center and to pay the rent of his displaced house in the northern state.

This is one of the stories of suffering among chronically ill patients in Sudan, where about 70% of hospitals have ceased service.

It checked World Health Organization It sounded the alarm, announcing that the remaining health facilities still in use were operating at minimal percentages, with medical supplies meeting only 25% of demand.

95% of patients are seeking treatment, while 70% of Sudan’s hospitals are out of service (Al Jazeera)

The suffering of cancer patients

Dafallah Omar Abu Idris, director of Sudan’s National Oncology Centre, described the tragedy of cancer patients as “forgotten” as at least 20 per cent of cancer patients die at home or in centres due to lack of treatment or difficulties in leaving their homes.

He said that 80% of the patients were treated in Khartoum and Jasinla, but the two states stopped services after the spread of fighting, and some of these patients crossed the border into Egypt to seek treatment, some of them fled to safe countries, but some did not even leave, and due to poor financial ability or difficulty in leaving the country, he still remained in the war zone without receiving any treatment.

Abu Idris continued that 30,000 new cases are recorded every year. Interviewed by Al JazeeraThe number of visitors to the center is expected to reach 80,000.

Regarding treatment conditions, he said that Sudan has lost five radiotherapy machines in Khartoum and Madani states, and only one machine is left in Merowe in northern Sudan, and it is the only working machine now, and whoever successfully arrives will not be harmed. As a developing country, Sudan needs 42 treatment mechanisms according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization. International Atomic Energy Agency.

Regarding chemotherapy, Dafalla said that some states in Sudan have opened centers to receive chemotherapy, which are bearing the burden of patients displaced from these areas, but the capacity of these centers cannot accommodate all these people.

Currently, 95% of these patients are seeking treatment, and the treatment grants that have arrived are not enough to meet the needs of one of the centers. Abu Idris said they need an estimated budget of $125 million, of which the government has prepared $35 million, “so we need $90 million to provide treatment for cancer patients.”

Dialysis centres in Port Sudan face shortages of machines, medicines and water (Al Jazeera)

Clinics are overcrowded

As the number of internally displaced people in Sudan continues to grow – estimated at around 10 million – Al Jazeera has monitored a growing number of patients visiting clinics in the city. Port Sudan In Sudan's eastern Red Sea state, the number of displaced people exceeds 239,000, according to the displacement tracking matrix.

Sharif Abu Fatima, an internal medicine consultant, said that due to the shortage of medicine supply, the suffering of displaced people after arriving in Port Sudan doubled, and the number of patients in the clinic doubled. In addition, they also faced difficulties in treatment and poor storage due to unstable electric current.

“We are facing compound pain both in the economy and in health, and this pain will continue without a clear plan to correct the situation,” he added in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Saleh, director of the Port Sudan Oncology Center, introduced the post-war situation of the center and said that it is currently receiving patients from various states in Sudan. Due to the large scale of the center, it needs to be expanded. The capacity is limited, indicating that the Federal Ministry of Health can stabilize chemotherapy.

To clarify the situation, the director said that the total number of patients at the center from its opening in 2015 to the end of 2022 was about 2,500 patients, while from 2023 to date, the number of patients at the center has reached 3,500 and the center is receiving about 50 new cases per month before the war, but after the war, the increase exceeded 100%.

The suffering of chronically ill patients in Butt Sultan
The number of patients at the Butsudan Kidney Disease and Surgery Center has reached 321 (Al Jazeera)

Suffering of kidney patients

Al Jazeera witnessed the suffering of 321 patients inside the Kidney Disease and Surgery Centre in Port Sudan, at a time when the Ministry of Health says Sudan has more than 10,000 kidney patients who require dialysis services.

According to statistics from the Sudanese Ministry of Health in 2023, 23 of the country's 105 kidney centers and hospital specialist wards remained operational three months after the war, with about 4,500 kidney transplant patients and 70,000 dialysis sessions required each month.

The dialysis center in Port Sudan faces a shortage of machines, medicines and water, Ahmed Said, the medical director of the center, said the center's capacity increases and decreases according to the availability of machines, as currently there are 31 machines in operation at the center, 10 of which are old and the others keep breaking down.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Saeed added that the centre has been under pressure since the beginning of the year, with around 72 patients on the waiting list, 10 of whom have died so far.

Ali Ibrahim, a medical engineer at the Port Sudan centre, told Al Jazeera that there was a shortage of supplies and spare parts, and that seven machines were out of service, some for more than a year.

While kidney patients in Port Sudan are trying to raise donations to fill the treatment shortage, at the initiative of the Kidney Patients Association, Moussa Mohammed, the association’s media coordinator in Port Sudan, told Al Jazeera that there is currently a shortage of multiple medications that patients receive.

The association's president, Hassan Yusuf, revealed that the number of cleanings has been reduced from three to two, while the monthly treatment cost for one patient is more than $103. He added in an interview with Al Jazeera that some patients stopped receiving treatment due to lack of financial ability, and some died due to delayed resolution and inability to afford dialysis.

Gastrointestinal disorders

Given the lack of medical services in Sudan due to the war that broke out more than a year ago, Abdel Moneim Tayyeb, director of the National Centre for Digestive and Liver Diseases, told Al Jazeera that patients with digestive systems are suffering the most, saying that in addition to the lack of vaccination against viral hepatitis, which is prevalent in Sudan, patients with cirrhosis and viral hepatitis also face insufficient and expensive medicines.

He said most of the laboratory tests for the digestive system are not available because they are working with the Ministry of Health to provide them. As for liver transplant patients, about 50 to 60 percent of the medications are available, while colitis patients are suffering a lot due to the lack of medication.

According to Abdel Moneim, the Federal Ministry of Health provides free treatment for patients with obstructive jaundice, with the cost per patient ranging between $309 and $463.

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