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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid