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Emergency Surgical Team at Bashair Hospital Khartoum, Sudan

Hundreds of trauma patients arrive at Khartoum hospital

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  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have treated over 200 patients for trauma injuries, including wounds from gunshots and explosions. 
  • It is vital that more supplies and medical staff reach areas in greatest need to ensure people have access to lifesaving medical care.

Khartoum/Brussels - A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team working alongside Sudanese staff and volunteers has treated 240 trauma patients in just over a week, in a hospital in south Khartoum. Many victims suffered gunshot wounds or injuries resulting from explosions, consistent with ongoing airstrikes and shelling in the built-up areas of the capital. 

Since intense fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on 15 April 2023, and spread rapidly to other parts of the country, hospitals and health facilities have struggled to keep operating. Some have been badly damaged. Others are facing staff shortages after people fled or they struggle to move around the city. The Bashair Teaching Hospital in south Khartoum was forced to close completely for some time. 

“Doctors and nurses, but also young people from the community, made a decision to try to restart this hospital after it closed and staff had fled for their own safety,” says Will Harper, MSF emergency coordinator in Sudan.

“When our surgical team reached south Khartoum, we found people working as hard as they could and taking risks. We’ve joined them, hand-in-hand, to try to bring healthcare and lifesaving surgical care to the people in this area,” says Harper.

Emergency Surgical Team at Bashair Hospital Khartoum, Sudan
Nora Zergi, an MSF anesthetist, prepares a patient for a bullet extraction operation. Sudan, May 2023. 
MSF/Ala Kheir

“When we arrived, the situation was chaotic,” says Hisham Eid, an MSF doctor in Sudan. “The hospital was not operational. A few doctors and volunteers were doing their best to attend to the large number of patients, despite the shortage of all forms of supplies, including electricity. It is getting better now and we are able to attend to many patients efficiently,” says Eid.

Since our teams started working in the hospital on 9 May, more than 240 surgical procedures have been performed, among them around four major procedures a day. Complex and critical cases make up a significant proportion. 

“We have seen multiple patients with gunshot wounds and stab wounds in a highly critical state, and who would not have survived without surgery,” says Shahzid Majeed, MSF surgeon. “These injuries were to the chest, to the abdomen, to the liver, to the spleen, to the kidney, to the intestine. We’ve also performed vascular reconstructive surgery here, without which the patient would have died or lost a limb.”

We have seen multiple patients with gunshot wounds and stab wounds in a highly critical state, and who would not have survived without surgery. Shahzid Majeed, MSF surgeon

Making sure that the surgical team and other medical professionals have the right supplies to keep providing lifesaving medical care is difficult. MSF and other organisations have been donating medical supplies to hospitals in Khartoum and other areas from stocks already in the country. But delays in getting supplies into Sudan and to the areas where they are most needed create serious challenges. Fuel to run generators is a major concern, as electricity supply is intermittent at best. 

“We’ve been able to increase the quality of care and we’ve already been able to build some capacity within the volunteers and the staff here,” says Harper. “We’ve done multiple major surgical interventions for injuries caused by the violence.

“Increasing post-operative care and infection control are a challenge in any hospital, but they’re especially a challenge when we have limits on water, electricity and medical supplies,” he says.

With no end in sight to the conflict, more supplies and more medical staff need to reach the areas in greatest need, to ensure that people have access to lifesaving medical care. 

Surgical activities are one of several projects MSF teams are currently running in Khartoum, North Darfur, West Darfur, Central Darfur, Al-Jazeera, Blue Nile, and Al-Gedaref states. Our activities include running and supporting hospitals and clinics, running mobile clinics, providing essential items, as well as doing water and sanitation activities. MSF is committed to remaining in Sudan to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to people affected by this crisis. 

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