May 30, 2024

WHO Condemns Attacks on Health Care in Sudan, Urges Respect for Truce to Ensure Safe Access to Medical Services

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the 151st session of the Executive Board on 30 May 2022. This second shorter meeting of the year is a follow-up to the World Health Assembly. The Executive Board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, and advise and generally to facilitate its work.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed deep concern over the increasing violence in Sudan, which has resulted in the death of over 330 people and left nearly 3200 injured. In a statement, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, condemned the loss of life and attacks on civilians and health care. He urged all sides to respect the truce to ensure that those trapped by the fighting can seek refuge, civilians can access food, water and medicine, and patients can seek the health care they need.

The lack of safe access to health care, electricity, food, water, personnel, and diminishing medical supplies are making it nearly impossible for many health facilities to function at a time when there are thousands of injured people in need of urgent care. Dr Ghebreyesus called for peace as the only solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, strongly condemned the reported attacks on health personnel, health facilities, and ambulances in Sudan. These attacks, which appear to be increasing in number, have already led to at least three deaths and two injuries.

He said that reports of military strikes against health facilities, hijacking of ambulances while patients and paramedics are on board, looting of health facilities, and military forces occupying health facilities “are deeply concerning,” while “attacks on health care are a flagrant violation of international law and the right to health, and they must stop now.”

“The parties to the conflict must ensure safe access of patients, health personnel, and ambulances to hospitals at all times. Patients need access to health services not only to treat injuries but also for other essential and lifesaving services,” Dr. Al-Mandhari added.

Reports suggest that 16 hospitals, including nine in Khartoum, are non-functional due to attacks, and 16 hospitals in Khartoum and other states, including Darfur States, are close to being non-functional due to staff fatigue and lack of supplies.

Hospitals in Khartoum receiving injured people are reporting shortages of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, medical supplies, and other life-saving commodities. Shortages of water, electricity, fuel, and food for patients are also being reported.

The safety and sanctity of health care must be protected at all times, especially in situations of conflict when access to life-saving services become even more vital. The WHO has called on all parties to respect the truce and to take steps to ensure the safety of health personnel, health facilities, and ambulances.

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