May 22, 2024

WHO Calls for Protection of Health Workers and Patients, Unrestricted Access to Healthcare in Sudan Amid Ongoing Conflict

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanmon Ghebreyesus speaks during the Strategic Roundtable discussion "A Healthy Return: investing in a sustainably financed WHO" on 23 May 2022 at the 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Expert reports have highlighted the mismatch between what the world needs from WHO and, in particular, its role leading the multilateral response to health emergencies, and the way it is currently funded. In January 2021 the Working Group on Sustainable Financing was set up to look afresh at the issue and it makes substantive recommendations in a report to be discussed at this Assembly. The discussion included the formal launch of ‘A Healthy Return: investing in a sustainably financed WHO’, the new WHO investment case. It also spotlighted the Results Report 2020-2021 ‘For a Safer, Healthier and Fairer world’ as an example of the commitment of the Secretariat to enhanced accountability, transparency and reporting on results.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the protection of health workers and patients in Sudan, as fighting continues in various parts of the country.

WHO urged all parties involved in the conflict to respect the neutrality of health care and provide unrestricted access to health facilities for those affected by the hostilities.

According to the latest reports, more than 83 people have been killed and over 1126 injured in Khartoum, South Kordofan, North Darfur, Northern State and other regions since April 13, with the heaviest concentration of fighting in Khartoum city. The insecurity in the city has limited movement, making it difficult for doctors, nurses, patients and ambulances to reach health facilities, and putting the lives of those in urgent need of medical care at risk.

WHO reminded all parties of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to protect the wounded and sick, civilians, health care workers, ambulances, and health facilities. WHO is closely monitoring health needs and resources across Khartoum and other affected cities to ensure that limited supplies are directed to where they are most needed.

According to WHO, the supplies distributed to health facilities prior to the escalation of conflict are now exhausted, and many of the nine hospitals in Khartoum that are receiving injured civilians are reporting shortages of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, medical supplies and other life-saving commodities. Reports of shortages of specialized medical personnel, including anaesthesiologists, have also surfaced. Power and water cuts are affecting the functionality of health facilities, and there are reports of shortages of fuel for hospital generators.

As the situation evolves, WHO said it is working with partners and health authorities to provide health care, especially for trauma care, while also ensuring the safety of their own staff and their families. WHO has been a leading partner in delivering health care in Sudan, and they have reiterated their commitment to continue supporting the health needs of the people of Sudan.

WHO’s call for the protection of health workers and patients and the unrestricted access to health care in Sudan is a timely reminder of the importance of safeguarding health care in times of conflict. The organization has called upon all parties to respect the neutrality of health care and ensure that health facilities remain a safe place for those in need of medical care.

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