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Sudan conflict nothing short of disastrous...every second counts - SHAMEET THAKKAR

Sudan's healthcare system is not equipped to cope with conflict. The civil war playing out will be disastrous for the nation, writes Shameet Thakkar.


Like many others I’ve watched the scenes unfolding in Sudan with dismay. But the most disturbing reality is the fact that in all likelihood, the worst is yet to come. The aftermath of the conflict in Sudan will be nothing short of disastrous, exacerbating what are already precarious humanitarian circumstances.

Sudan’s healthcare system is not equipped to cope with the consequences of the conflict. It has already devastated populations in areas affected, who are suffering shortages of food, water and medicines.

Refugees are flooding to neighbouring countries, many of which don’t have the resources to adequately support an influx of individuals needing protection, basic commodities and stable healthcare services.

Like Sudan, its neighbouring countries are dealing with complex humanitarian crises and significant economic and political turmoil.

With more than 3,700 people wounded, medicine shortages are a particular cause for concern – simple yet essential medical supplies make all the difference in these circumstances, but what happens when a country just doesn’t have the resources to look after its population?

It raises the issue of healthcare resilience – or lack thereof – in the region, and shows us exactly why building resilience in health systems in countries like Sudan should be a priority.

Many make the mistake of thinking ‘we’ll never get to that point’, and when armed conflicts do break out, they are not prepared to respond. This is why proactivity and resilience in healthcare are key.

There’s such a strong need to build solid healthcare systems and increase equal access to healthcare. Intensifying our support to that end should be paramount.

Resilience in healthcare means having the ability to prepare, adapt and move forward in response to sudden and extreme circumstances affecting health systems, but achieving this is not an easy feat.

There is a significant number of communities in the region and beyond that live without access to essential healthcare.

And when a crisis arises, these communities are particularly at risk – Sudan is a prime example. Its health system is simply not equipped to cope with the additional burden.

More than ten million individuals in Sudan were in need of health assistance prior to the conflict breaking out, amidst shortages of medical supplies and outbreaks of illnesses and diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

You also have to ask why preparations weren’t better in the first place. After all, residents of Khartoum have been warning about such a clash for months.

Both factions had been mobilising for a struggle, stockpiling ammunition, accelerating recruitment, and bringing in extra fuel and medical supplies, even blood.

The impact of the conflict on Sudan will be multifaceted, likely causing long-term damage that will be difficult to mend. With Sudan already battling disease outbreaks and a socioeconomic crisis, the conflict will create a cycle of continued crisis that will be almost impossible to break.

This means we need to develop resources in the short term to provide humanitarian aid to communities in Sudan.

There’s also a need to think about the long-term wellbeing of the country. But for the moment every second counts for Sudan, and for its people.

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