Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sudan has the shits

Journalist, Yousra Elbagir, has been criticising the Sudanese government's failure to get to grips with a cholera outbreak. After 10 months, Sudan's Ministry of Health finally confirmed that there have been 265 deaths and more than 16,000 infected cases of "acute watery diarrhoea" in 11 of the country's 18 states. Medical professionals have long diagnosed the cases as cholera, despite the euphemisms, the government has insisted on to downplay the severity of the crisis. But cholera by any other name is still cholera. In April, journalist Ammar El-Daw was detained for reporting on the outbreak and accused of defamation by the minister of his home state, Gaderef. The World Health Organization has been ominously silent in the face of the growing crisis. Many assume that pressure from the government - never shy to expel a UN official for saying the wrong thing - has left them at a loss for words.
The Federal Minister of Health, Bahar Abu Garda, told parliament that cases of "watery diarrhoea" were not his business - shifting blame to the Ministry of Water Resources and State Ministers. The private hospital of Khartoum's State Minister of Health, Mamoun Himeda, has a printed sign on the door, refusing the admission of any cases of watery diarrhea. While the country's politicians continue to shirk responsibility and avoid action, the number of cases continues to climb. The first infections were confirmed as early as August 2016, in the White Nile state where the cluster of South Sudanese refugee camps has been identified by the government as the source of the outbreak.
 Sudan's crumbling infrastructure and underfunded healthcare system made conditions rife for the disease to spread. Poor sanitation, meagre emergency services, and underpaid doctors, striking intermittently since October 2016, have left the nation extremely vulnerable. Medics have highlighted the lack of quarantine spaces and photos have been shared online of brackish water pouring out of taps across the country.

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