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North Darfur State Lacks Critical Medical Services

  • Joe DeCapua

The area of Darfur lies in the west of Sudan and it is as big as the country of France

The area of Darfur lies in the west of Sudan and it is as big as the country of France

The aid group Doctors without Borders has sharply reduced essential healthcare services in parts of Sudan’s North Darfur State. The group, also known as MSF, says it has no more drugs or medical supplies to treat people in the Jebel Si region.

Jebel Si is considered a conflict zone because of the presence of several rebel groups. As a result, the Sudanese government has denied permission and permits needed to bring supplies in by plane and helicopter.

MSF Operational manager for Sudan Alberto Cristina said about 110,000 people are affected by the lack of medical services.

“The operations are not suspended, but let’s say deeply reduced because we are facing many different kinds of administrative barriers and restrictions by the government of Sudan,” he said.

Long overdue

It’s been months since MSF received medical supplies in Jebel Si.

“The last shipment approved by the government, by local authorities was during the first part of September 2011and was even not a complete supply. It was just a partial one. So the majority of medical items have run out. And today we drastically decrease our activities, especially in the hospital,” he said.

That MSF hospital is in the rural area of Kaguro. But the hospital’s closure means pregnant women, who need a C-section, must go elsewhere. That means traveling 8 hours over very poor roads to reach a hospital in El Fasher. Others are affected, too, such as very young children

“The entire population of Jebel Si must,” he said, “travel to an alternative place in order to receive basic health care. Primary or secondary health care in this area is totally non-existing. Our organization Médecins Sans Frontières is the only one working there.”

Ongoing appeal

Cristina says MSF continues to appeal to the government to allow medical supplies to be brought in.

“We still have a very open discussion with the government and with the Minister of Health at Khartoum level and at El Fasher level. El Fasher is the capital of the North Darfur [where] Jebel Si is located. So we keep an open dialogue, very, very transparent. We keep sharing our data and we keep sharing our worries,” he said.

He said MSF is ready to resume its operations as soon as the restrictions are lifted.