In Khartoum, the lingering smell of death in hospitals

Monday, April 24, 2023
Khartoum, Sudan

On Saturday, Ibrahim Mohammed discovered that his bedmate in the hospital was dead.
Three days later, choked by the smell of his rotting body, he was forced to leave as bullets whistled around him.
In Khartoum, the war between generals vying for power has finished off a health system already on its knees in a country shaken by decades of war and international sanctions.
After more than a week of open warfare in the heart of the capital of more than five million people, patients and doctors describe absolute horror.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 62, regularly visits his son Ibrahim, 25, at the hospital where he is being treated for leukemia. On April 15, his ordeal took a completely different turn.
His bedmate died “but his body was left there because of the fighting,” the 60-year-old told AFP.
the sexagenarian to the AFP.

-“Full morgues”-

For Dr. Attiya Abdallah, secretary general of the doctors’ union, this kind of scene is no longer rare in Sudan.
For Dr. Attiya Abdallah, secretary general of the doctors’ union, this kind of scene is no longer rare in Sudan in the midst of chaos: “decomposing corpses remain in hospital wards” because they cannot be moved.
“The morgues are full, the corpses litter the streets, even the hospitals that treat the wounded can be forced to stop everything at any moment”, he says, exhausted.
Because everywhere in the city, the crossfire spares neither doctors, nor patients, nor
Mohammed Ibrahim had to make a difficult choice: “either we stayed in the putrid smell, or we went out and were shot at”.
But after three days without food, water or electricity at the hospital, “we were told to leave because there was fighting and the hospital was being shot at.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Sunday that “eight people were killed and two wounded” among the medical staff.

In all, according to the doctors’ union, 13 hospitals were bombed and 19 others were forced to close – either because of lack of equipment or because they were requisitioned by combatants.
forced to close – either because of lack of equipment or because they were requisitioned by combatants.
“We find ourselves forced to send patients away because they risk being shot at and dying if they stay,” says Dr. Abdallah.
Mohammed Ibrahim, for his part, had to carry his sick son at arm’s length “on foot, under fire and in the middle of the fighting”; for five hours to get back to their house.
This is where Ibrahim is now wasting away because with nearly three quarters of the hospitals out of action and “the operating rooms in a state of disrepair that only treat emergencies,” according to Dr. Abdallah, no hospital has been able to admit him.

“Two doctors for one hospital” –

Because everything is now rationed in the hospitals of Khartoum and several other regions in the throes of fighting: “we are short of medical and surgical equipment, fuel for the generators, ambulances, and blood bags,” says Dr. Abdallah.
“In some hospitals, the same doctors have been working since April 15 without any rest. Some institutions have only one surgeon left, sometimes there are only two doctors left for an entire hospital,” he continues.
And all calls for a humanitarian truce or safe corridors have come to nothing so far. Caregivers are regularly attacked, says the UN, and for fighters engaged in a fight to the death, hospitals are no longer sanctuaries.
On social networks, the inhabitants are trying to organize themselves to find
for their chronically ill relatives.
But stocks are dwindling and Unicef is already warning that fighting and power cuts could wipe out a $40 million supply of insulin and vaccines in the country.
On Friday, as yet another promise of a ceasefire fell through, the doctors’ union explained on Facebook how to handle, move and bury a decomposing body.

© Agence France-Presse


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