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Sudan: MSF suspends surgery in Khartoum hospital as supplies are blocked

MSF is ready to resume its surgical activities when supply lines are restored.

Doctor wearing blue scrubs extracts a bullet from a man lying on operation table in Khartoum, Sudan

Sudan 2023 © Ala Kheir/MSF

KHARTOUM, Sudan, October 18, 2023—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is suspending life-saving surgical activities at Bashair Teaching Hospital in southern Khartoum, Sudan, including trauma surgery and Cesarean sections, after military authorities caused surgical supplies to run out by blocking their delivery from Wad Madani for over a month. 

MSF is at least temporarily withdrawing its surgical team, but is continuing to support maternal, emergency, and outpatient care at Bashair Teaching Hospital. MSF also continues to provide and support medical care at three other major hospitals in Khartoum and Omdurman for now, but some of these hospitals are running out of supplies as well. Surgical supplies at the Turkish Hospital in south Khartoum, also affected by the blockage, are likely to run out within two weeks. 

“It is devastating to have to stop supporting life-saving surgical care at Bashair Hospital,” said Shazeer Majeed, an MSF surgeon who provides guidance to the hospital team. “Since mid-May, the hospital’s emergency room has received nearly 5,000 patients and MSF’s surgical team has performed more than 3,000 surgical procedures. The needs are huge. Blocking the medication and materials needed to perform surgery deprives people of the health care they so desperately need.”

MSF started working alongside Ministry of Health staff and volunteers at Bashair Teaching Hospital in mid-May. Since September 8, military authorities have refused permission for MSF to bring new surgical supplies from its warehouses in Wad Madani, in Sudan's Al-Jazeera state, to hospitals in southern Khartoum. 

“After weeks of discussions, on October 1, we were informed that the military authorities in Wad Madani will no longer allow the transport of any surgical supplies, including for C-sections, to hospitals in southern Khartoum," said Michiel Hofman, operations coordinator for Sudan. "Despite repeated engagement with the health authorities since, these critical supplies remain blocked and stocks in the hospital are now depleted. We have no choice but to suspend our support for surgical activities at Bashair Teaching Hospital and temporarily withdraw our surgical team. We cannot ask our medical teams to stay when they can no longer provide life-saving care as they are medically obliged to do.”

MSF continues to discuss this urgent issue with all authorities concerned in order to enable the delivery of supplies. MSF is ready to resume its surgical activities when supply lines are restored.

Timeline: War in Sudan

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MSF in Sudan

MSF has worked in Sudan since 1979. We currently work in 10 states in Sudan, including Khartoum city and state, Al-Jazeera, White Nile, Blue Nile, River Nile, Al Gedaref, West Darfur, North Darfur, Central Darfur, and South Darfur states.  

MSF teams in Sudan are treating people injured in ongoing fighting, including for blast injuries and gunshot wounds, treating communicable and noncommunicable diseases, providing maternal and pediatric care, running mobile clinics in places where displaced people have gathered, providing water and sanitation support, and supporting health care facilities through donations and financial support to Ministry of Health staff, and providing training and logistical support. MSF is also continuing some of the activities that were in place before the start of the current conflict six months ago.

MSF Sudan´s emergency response operates with a budget of 76 million euros (about $80 million) for 2023 and a team of 1,145 Sudanese staff and 57 international staff in Sudan. MSF is also providing financial support to 1,358 Ministry of Health staff.

Sudan crisis response