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Disease Outbreaks Compound Misery as Conflict Devastates Sudan
Sudan is grappling with alarming outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever, as thousands shelter in crowded camps amid fighting between the military and rival paramilitary forces. The disease spread spotlights a public health emergency compounding the humanitarian crisis from months of bloody conflict.
According to the World Health Organization, over 160 cholera cases have been reported in refugee camps in eastern Sudan's Qadarif province bordering war-torn Ethiopia. At least 10 people have died of the bacterial infection so far, with 80 laboratory-confirmed cases.
Doctors Without Borders has established cholera treatment centers in Qadarif, with the WHO and UNHCR also mobilizing health operations. But the rapid spread highlights glaring vulnerabilities.
17 Dead From Dengue in Sudan's East: Doctors' Union
In parallel, Sudan is battling a surge in mosquito-borne dengue fever concentrated in urban areas of Qadarif. While WHO reports 500 suspected cases, the Sudanese doctors' union alarmingly reveals hundreds have died from dengue, overwhelming hospitals.
The actual numbers affected are likely higher since patients often avoid overwhelmed facilities. The twin outbreaks represent a public health emergency amid conflict-driven humanitarian crisis.
War Displaces Over 5 Million as Health Services Collapse
Sudan’s nightmare cascaded in April 2022 when tensions between the military and paramilitaries exploded into urban warfare in Khartoum and elsewhere. The raging conflict has displaced over 5 million people internally and externally.
At least 5,000 have died and infrastructure lies in ruins, including the deprecated health system. Over half of Sudan's population needs aid, with millions at risk of famine without assistance. Vulnerable groups face severe disease risks.
Cholera Outbreaks Not Uncommon in Impoverished Sudan
Cholera thrives in settings lacking sanitation infrastructure and clean water access. Sudan's last major outbreak in 2017 sickened 22,000 people and killed 700 in under two months.
Given flimid health systems and overflowing camps housing displaced populations in dire conditions, cholera finds fertile ground for transmission through contaminated water and food.
Climate Change and Flooding Worsen Risks
Experts warn climate change is escalating cholera outbreaks as disasters like flooding displace people into high risk areas. Powerful storms this year have damaged 13,000 homes in Sudan.
Stagnant water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding and shortages of safe drinking water and food converge to enable cholera and other diarrheal disease outbreaks in turbulent Sudan.
Border Dynamics With Ethiopia's Cholera Outbreak
With over 20,000 cases and 270 dead, cholera has hit seven Ethiopian regions since August 2022, including Qadarif's border areas. Population flows likely spread cholera across the frontier.
Weak disease surveillance and cross-border management compound risks of transmission between the two countries grappling with conflict-driven crises.
Impoverished Camp Conditions Fuel Spread
Qadarif's camps primarily house Ethiopian refugees along with internally displaced Sudanese fleeing violence. Impoverished conditions facilitate cholera's spread through contaminated water or food.
Lack of sanitation, healthcare access limitations, and clean water shortages create an epidemic tinderbox. Without urgent aid and interventions, outbreaks could easily spiral in the congested camps.
Mistrust and Misinformation Aggravate Health Risks
Public mistrust of military authorities ruling Sudan could deter people from seeking treatment or following preventive health advice. Transparent communication and community engagement becomes critical.
Authorities must bridge health awareness gaps and combat misinformation. Otherwise, years of unrest have alienated marginalized groups needing outreach and services. Building public health trust is key amid turmoil.
Vicious Cycles of War, Disease and Malnutrition
The cascading crises of conflict, disease, hunger and poverty leave Sudan's vulnerable trapped in devastating cycles of trauma. Children bear the consequences disproportionately.
Over 1,200 minors have died from measles and malnutrition in camps over five months, illustrating systemic deprivations. Cholera and dengue magnify the crisis.
International Assistance Urgently Needed
UN agencies and NGOs have mobilized emergency operations despite formidable challenges in insecure environments. But wider assistance is desperately needed.
Global health authorities must surge technical guidance, supplies, mobile clinics, vaccines, diagnostics, surveillance and humanitarian funding to contain the outbreaks. A coordinated response is required to prevent the health crisis worsening.
Neighboring nations must also enhance preparedness as refugee flows and trade risks spread contagion over borders. Diseases exploit countries weakened by war and poverty without international support.
Cholera is treatable if urgently addressed, but conflict always complicates humanitarian health interventions. Diplomacy is also vital for ceasefires facilitating unhindered aid access to save lives.
Ultimately, Sudan requires a lasting political solution to halt this profitless internal war so recovery can commence. But preventing the acute health crisis from deteriorating must be the immediate priority.
With proper global solidarity and public health measures, the contagion and senseless deaths can be contained. But the international community must recognize inaction will prove catastrophic for Sudan's people caught in the crossfire with nowhere to turn.
Their future should not be decided by the accidents of birthplace or microbes, but the content of global conscience. There is still time to stem this crisis, if the world chooses to act.
Some content summarised from the original article by - apnews.com
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