News / Africa

Patients Killed in Beds, Health Care Destroyed in South Sudan - MSF

  • An infant scale lies broken amid patient records and medical supplies at Leer Hospital in Unity state, South Sudan. Doctors Without Borders says the hospital was vandalized something between the end of January and early February.
  • A vandalized operating table stands in Leer Hospital's surgical theater amid ransacked medical supplies.
  • An aerial shot taken over Leer in Unity state, South Sudan, shows many tukuls burnt to the ground.
  • MSF personnel found medical supplies strewn around Leer Hospital when they returned to assess damages. The hospital opened 25 years ago and served 300,000 people in South Sudan's Unity state.
  • A burnt, damaged operating table at Leer Hospital in Unity state.
  • A girl is treated for burns in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic set up at the camp for displaced people in the grounds of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, South Sudan, on January 12, 2014.
Hospital Looted in South Sudan
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

Scores of people have been killed in hospitals in South Sudan since the country plunged into conflict in December, and attacks on medical facilities have helped to crush the already fragile health care system, medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tuesday.

"Patients have been shot in their beds, medical and humanitarian staff have been killed, and hospitals, ambulances and medical equipment have been burnt, looted and otherwise destroyed," MSF said in a report entitled South Sudan Conflict: Violence Against Healthcare.

"An already fragile healthcare system has been destroyed in areas affected by conflict and largely neglected in other areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without medical care at a time when it is critically needed," the report says.

Patients, including women and children, were shot in their hospital beds, and medical and humanitarian staff were killed, MSF said.

Raphael Gorgeu, the MSF head of mission in South Sudan, listed the total fatalities: 25 of the people killed in attacks on hospitals were patients, 27 were people seeking shelter in the hospitals, two of them were ministry of health staff and 4 were unidentified people.

Devastating impact

He said the attacks have had devastating consequences on local populations.

"Hundreds of thousands of people became cut off from health care at a time they actually needed it most," Gorgeu said.

"One health facility destroyed, one ambulance burned, one health worker killed means no access to health care for thousands of people,” he said.

MSF project coordinator in Unity State Sarah Maynard said entire buildings in the town of Leer were reduced to ash and rubble, and life-saving surgical equipment was destroyed in an attack in January.

MSF staff were pulled out of Leer after the attack, and when they returned in May, Maynard said she was shocked to see the extent of the destruction.

“One of the things that really struck me the most was the absence of life and movement," she said.

"I had never seen a hospital without patients in it, with no staff, no noise -- not even babies crying," she said.

Before the attack, the MSF health facility in Leer provided preventive care and treatment for chronic diseases like HIV and tuberculosis to more than a quarter of a million people.

The patients kept on coming, desperate for our help, and although we had no delivery beds, the mothers were coming and giving birth on the floor because they wanted to be close to the medical teams...

Months afterwards, when MSF returned to Leer, people in the town were desperate for medical attention, Maynard said.

MSF did what it could to help them, often working in deplorable conditions.

"We had no power and no water," Maynard said.

"The patients kept on coming, desperate for our help, and although we had no delivery beds, the mothers were coming and giving birth on the floor because they wanted to be close to the medical teams, at least,” she said.

Malnourished children

Maynard said she was also overwhelmed by the number of malnourished children she and MSF staff treated during their first week back in Leer.

“We started a feeding program for severely malnourished children under five. Hundreds of mothers were bringing their kids for weighing and measuring and I remember thinking in the first week that maybe we will admit 500 children in the program. In the end, it was 900,” she said.

Gorgeu said both government and opposition leaders have assured MSF that the violence against health care facilities and staff will stop, but there was little evidence that those promises are being kept.

“We do have, at the highest level from all sides, positive messages when it comes to protection for health care, protection of MSF. But the difficulty is that these messages are not always translated into reality in the field,” he said.

Government health officials were tied up in a meetings and were unavailable for comment about the MSF report.

 

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid