Healthcare professionals in Sudan are issuing grave warnings about the increasing prevalence of cholera and dengue fever in the country. This alarming situation is exacerbated by the onset of seasonal rains and the adverse effects of an ongoing conflict that has severely strained the healthcare system for over five months.
Health authorities have reported cholera cases for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict in mid-April. The initial case was detected in the state of Kassala in late August. According to the Ministry of Health, as of a late-night statement on Tuesday, 18 individuals have succumbed to cholera, with 265 more confirmed cases in Kassala state alone.
A statement released by the Sudanese Doctors Association revealed that “3,398 cases of dengue fever have been recorded in the states of Kassala, Red Sea, North Kordofan, and Khartoum, from mid-April to mid-September.” It’s important to note that this figure represents only the tip of the iceberg and falls significantly short of the suspected cases in households and unregistered fatalities.
Several factors have contributed to the rapid spread of these diseases, including the contamination of drinking water from unburied bodies, inadequate waste management, and the shortage of medical facilities and supplies ahead of the rainy season.
Residents in Kassala have reported a partial outbreak of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, cholera, and diarrhea, partly due to poor drainage systems and overcrowded healthcare facilities resulting from an influx of internally displaced people from Khartoum.
Kassala, located in eastern Sudan, is of vital importance to the country’s agricultural production and shares a border with Ethiopia.
Dozens of attacks on healthcare facilities have occurred since the conflict erupted between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces. This conflict has led to the shutdown of most hospitals in Khartoum.
More than 4.2 million people have been displaced from their homes due to the conflict, with nearly 1.2 million seeking refuge in neighboring countries. This has placed immense pressure on Sudan’s already strained resources.
International relief efforts are grappling with a severe funding shortfall. Last week, the United Nations reported that over 1,200 children have died from suspected measles and malnutrition in internally displaced persons camps in the White Nile state. Cholera, dengue fever, and malaria remain significant threats throughout the country.
Dengue fever is endemic in Sudan and can be severe and occasionally fatal upon reinfection, making long-term outbreak containment a critical concern.