El Gedaref — The Children’s Hospital in El Gedaref, eastern Sudan, recorded figures of 132 children who died as a result of a surge in malnutrition-related diseases. According to recent reports, there has been a marked increase in the number of disease cases and fatalities, notably within camps providing shelter to those uprooted by the conflict in Khartoum.
From April to July, the Children’s Hospital documented a total of 365 malnutrition cases, which they state, translates to a 20 per cent mortality rate among afflicted children. The monthly death toll saw 33 casualties in April, followed by 41 in May, 24 in June, and another 34 in July.
The director of the Children’s Hospital and accomplished paediatrician Nisreen Abu Jadiri attributed this phenomenon to the persistent poverty and severe food insecurity witnessed by families within El Gedaref.
In a statement to Radio Dabanga, Abu Jadiri said that the dwindling resources, including food, medication, treatment, and medical personnel, presented such a significant financial strain on the hospital, so much so that “staff salaries are no longer sustainable”.
In addition to the malnutrition crisis, the Children’s Hospital states there is also an uptick in the prevalence of other diseases, including diarrhoea, infections, malaria, and *kala-azar, contributing to an overwhelming demand for medical attention.
The hospital is also facing a pressing challenge of overcrowding and a shortage of available beds for hospitalisation. Abu Jadiri urgently called on international, national organisations, and charitable entities to rapidly intervene to alleviate this critical situation.
The hospital’s director reports that April saw an influx of more than 1,920 sick children, surging to 2,543 in May, 2,242 in June, and a peak of 3,098 in July.
She adds that urgent measures are imperative, including the prompt supply of convulsive treatments, Valium, therapeutic dairy products, intravenous solutions, antiviral therapies, and vital technical assistance to aid numerous children and families.
In May, as clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Khartoum’s single malnutrition paste factory was razed, halting the production of the crucial ‘Plumpy Nut’ paste that plays a pivotal role in combating food insecurity for Sudanese children.
Abu Jadiri highlights that health awareness campaigns must be initiated, as well as amending dietary habits, and enhancing childbirth procedures.
*Kala-azar is a disease transmitted by sandfly bites, and targets the immune system, proving fatal if not swiftly addressed. It is endemic to Sudan and poses significant health risks due to delayed diagnosis and treatment, notably in the Eastern region.