- About Us
- Our Work
- Work With MSF
- Public Events
- Press Room
MSF in Sudan, 2008
Field Staff: 3240
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Sudan »
Throughout 2008, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided medical services in Sudan where attacks and outbreaks of violence frequently occur, malnutrition is prevalent, and maternal mortality rates remain among the highest in the world. Tuberculosis (TB) and kala azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis, are common here, as are large-scale outbreaks of meningitis, measles, cholera, and malaria.
Clashes between armed forces and tribal militias along the disputed border of northern and southern Sudan, coupled with political tensions, led to the displacement of several thousand people in Bahr-el-Ghazal state throughout the year. In January, MSF opened a new project in the city of Aweil. Because many of the displaced people had to leave behind everything, staff initially focused on distributing kits containing essential items such as soap, jerry cans, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, and cooking sets to the most vulnerable, covering the needs of more than 15,000 people.
MSF also started working in Aweil hospital, providing nutritional aid and health care to mothers and children. Since malnutrition was a key concern, six additional outreach clinics were set up to try to reach as many people as possible. In the course of the year more than 21,000 outpatient consultations were provided and more than 6,000 children were treated for malnutrition.
In February, after an extremely violent attack near the town of Abyei, thousands of people fled to camps in northern Bahr-el-Ghazal state, and an estimated 10,000 people fled into the bush. In May, fighting virtually destroyed Abyei, displacing another 60,000 people. MSF teams have been working in Abyei since 2006 and were able to provide immediate emergency assistance. Owing to the large numbers of war-wounded, surgical, and post-operative patients, teams were sent to support the existing MSF team.
In order to reach the people who had fled to the bush, mobile clinics were set up in both Abyei and the nearby town of Agok, and mobile and inpatient nutrition programs were put in place. By the end of the year, 8,950 outpatient consultations had been given and more than 1,200 severely malnourished children had been treated. MSF also organized distribution of non-food items in Muglad, north of Abyei, for around 400 families. Teams remain ready to respond quickly to any further needs that might arise in this unstable area where people are struggling to survive.
Towards the end of 2008, attacks by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, in Southern Sudan near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) caused thousands of Sudanese people to flee their homes. Congolese refugees also crossed the border to seek refuge in Sudan. In response, MSF started supporting two primary healthcare clinics in Gangura and Sakura, in Western Equatoria state, close to the border with DRC. By the end of the year, 7,200 medical consultations had been provided to the residents and refugees in these two areas.
In other parts of Southern Sudan, MSF continued to provide care to hundreds of thousands of people. In Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states, medical staff provide all levels of health care, ranging from consultations for respiratory tract infections to emergency surgery. In 2008, medical teams carried out more than 365,000 outpatient consultations; 19,000 antenatal consultations; 1,000 operations, many of them emergency surgical interventions for gunshot wounds; and admitted more than 8,000 people as inpatients.
Overall, MSF treated 9,000 children for severe acute malnutrition in Southern Sudan, as well as over 600 people for violent trauma.
Throughout the country, MSF teams are prepared to respond to emergencies and epidemics. In July heavy rains and flooding exacerbated a cholera outbreak in Aweil. Working with the Ministry of Health and other agencies, MSF treated more than 6,700 people suffering from cholera. More than 1,200 cholera patients were also cared for in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, where cases were first detected in May. Because vaccination coverage is low in Sudan, children are vulnerable when there are measles outbreaks. MSF vaccinated more than 19,200 children during two campaigns in July and November 2008 in Pibor county, Jonglei state.
In the north of Sudan, in addition to its programs in Darfur, MSF runs a project in Port Sudan, in Red Sea state, providing maternal healthcare with a particular focus on pregnant women who have been circumcized. It is estimated that more than 97 percent of women in Red Sea state are circumcized. This procedure causes serious medical complications for many women for the rest of their lives. During delivery, circumcized women have to be cut open, or defibulated, to enable the birth of the child. After a birth, it is common practice to re-stitch, or re-infibulate, women. However, in Port Sudan the MSF project in Tagodom hospital, MSF does not re-infibulate any women following delivery.
In 2008, MSF carried out an average of 1,000 consultations and 64 deliveries per month in this program. Community teams also provided basic health education and raised awareness of the medical risks of female circumcision.
Where possible MSF has handed over activities. In June 2008, MSF handed over to the local health authorities its activities in Bor hospital, Jonglei state, after two years. At the end of the year, MSF handed over its sleeping sickness program in Yambio, Western Equatoria state, to the Ministry of Health.
MSF has worked in Sudan since 1979.