Sunday, June 4, 2023

As Hospitals Close and Doctors Flee, Sudan’s Health Care System Is Collapsing

The Sudan doctors’ union issues a notice on Facebook several times a day listing the few hospitals still operating in Khartoum, or an urgent alert for doctors to report to the field hospitals set up in homes across the city.

Away from hospitals, medical staff must use their wits and whatever tools they can find to treat the wounded.

In a field hospital in Al Mamoura, Dr. Mohamed Karrar improvised an intercostal drain system using a sterilized soda bottle to pump the blood from a gunshot victim’s punctured lung. Long shifts in the trauma ward of the now-shuttered Ibrahim Malik Teaching Hospital in central Khartoum helped prepare him, but Dr. Karrar must now contend with the sound of war while working in a living room converted into an operating room.

“I know I’m in danger in these areas,” he said, “but those sick, wounded people need me.”

At Al Nada, one of the few hospitals still operating, medical workers take cover multiple times a day, hiding with their patients under beds and tables from aerial bombardments and heavy artillery fire. Everyone is so jittery, said Dr. Mohamed Fath, a doctor there, that the sound of an oxygen canister being opened can send staff fleeing.

Al Nada, a private facility, is now offering free pediatric services, thanks in part to a donation from the Sudanese American Physician Association. Early in the conflict, the hospital’s management decided to treat only pregnant women and children in order to provide a haven for a small fraction of the more than 24,000 women who, according to the W.H.O., are expected to give birth in Sudan in the next few weeks.

In the weeks since the fighting began, 220 babies have been born there, and most have survived, Dr. Fath said.

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