Sudan: War weighs on the Sudanese people

© Serge Sibert Click on image for full size A man holds his 'sleeping sickness personal card' from the MSF Sleeping Sickness Treatment Center in Kiri, Sudan. Each patient receives this card after screening or treatment. Since this project began in June 2000, more than 12,000 people have been tested. Nearly 1,000 were diagnosed with the disease and treated.
The country's ongoing civil war has left four million people displaced today. Hunger, violence and "rare" or neglected diseases are all too familiar to the Sudanese people. Sudan is a divided country in chronic crisis, and its people a population in distress. MSF has medical programs in the northern, government-held part of the country as well as in the south, controlled primarily by the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and other armed groups. Meeting basic medical needs MSF is engaged in a continual effort to orient its medical activities to those most in need. In slums surrounding Khartoum, the capital, MSF has three clinics serving people who have been displaced to the area over the last ten years by war or by the economic pull of the city. Because the situation of the population has improved, MSF work in two of the three clinics will finish by the end of 2001. Work in another clinic in the western town of Meiram ended in July 2001. Southern Sudan has borne the brunt of the war. MSF offers basic care in Mapel, Ajiep, and Akuem, in Bahr el Ghazal province. MSF supports nine additional health posts and a referral hospital in Bahr El Ghazal and runs another hospital in the district of Kajo Keji, in Eastern Equatoria. Basic care is also provided in Akobo, in Jonglei province. In Wau, a government garrison town, MSF works in the pediatric ward of the civilian hospital. Click on image for full size
In Unity State (also called Western Upper Nile), a disputed region in south-central Sudan, people have been brutally chased off their lands by the fighting. In mid-2000 many of the displaced began to arrive in the town of Bentiu. In August 2000, MSF began work in Bentiu, caring for severely malnourished children, running a small in- and outpatient clinic, and treating kala azar and tuberculosis. MSF also maintains six primary health posts for people in Jekany, Jegai, Leek, and Adok counties in Unity State. Malnutrition The continual upheaval of war was coupled in spring 2001 with drought - and the threat that many thousands of people would go hungry. Severe drought affected Darfur, Kordofan, and Bahr el Ghazal provinces and Unity state. In March, MSF opened a therapeutic feeding center in Akuem in Bahr el Ghazal. In May, traditionally the start of the summer-long "hunger gap," MSF added a feeding center in Kuajok to one already operating in Ajiep, also in Bahr el Ghazal. Other feeding centers serve people in Akobo and in several camps for the displaced near Khartoum. Target diseases Kala azar is a severe parasitic disease affecting primarily poor, rural areas in developing countries. Since 1996, MSF has treated over 16,000 people in two kala azar clinics near the Atbara and Rahad rivers in northeastern Sudan. After levels of infection began to fall, MSF turned one clinic over to the Sudanese Ministry of Health in July 2001; the other will be handed over in December 2001. Kala azar treatment also takes place in Bentiu, Lankien, and Latjor state. In a large "kala azar belt" in southern Sudan, MSF has treated 25,000 patients for the disease since 1989. Sleeping sickness is another tropical disease endemic in parts of the country. At sleeping sickness clinics in Ibba, in Western Equatoria province, and Kiri, in Eastern Equatoria, MSF treated over 2,000 patients and screened many thousands more over the last year. In Lankien, MSF treats about 250 people for tuberculosis and is also undertaking a study of malaria resistance. MSF continues to treat river blindness and work to eradicate guinea worm, in Mapel, Ajiep, and Tonj, in Bahr el Ghazal province. International staff: 105 National staff: 1,680