#Cholera_In_Sudan: An important dispatch from Radio Dabanga gives some sense of what is now exploding in Darfur

 

Eric Reeves | August 22, 2017 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-25S

The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party in Khartoum is on the verge of securing a permanent lifting of U.S. economic and financial sanctions. This is so despite the failure of the regime to meet one of two key conditions laid down by the Obama administration in its perverse, last-minute decision to lift sanctions provisionally in January 2013: substantial improvement in humanitarian access. At the time, Obama administration UN Ambassador Samantha Power declared that there had been a "sea change of improvement" in humanitarian access: a preposterous and deeply destructively statement that was never corrected by Power herself or anyone else in the Obama administration in a position to do so. The State Department has confirmed to me directly that it has no idea what served as the basis for this claim, and that it did not represent realities in Sudan-either in Darfur or South Kordofan/Blue Nile.

There has been none of the claimed "improvement" over the past seven months, nor signs that it will occur before the October 13, 2017 deadline for a final U.S. decision by the woefully under-staffed and ill-informed Trump administration. This is extraordinarily consequential in light of the cholera epidemic that began in Blue Nile State in August 2016 and has relatively recently reached the Darfur region.

Vibrio cholerae is a bacterium that could be easily identified from fecal samples sent to UN WHO headquarters in Geneva

A Radio Dabanga dispatch below, which makes clear that Khartoum still does not permit Sudanese journalists or medical officials to use the word "cholera," is ominous in the extreme, especially since the UN World Health Organization, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the U.S. Agency for International Development have all been intimidated by Khartoum into using the euphemistic phrase "acute watery diarrhea" instead of "cholera." This is only one of the reasons there has not been a more urgent response, but it is central:

"Nierteti's hospital faces gaps in medicines, including oral and intravenous re-hydration solutions [..]," OCHA stated. "In Zalingei hospital, there are several sanitation issues, including lack of latrines and evidence of improper solid waste management [..]."

Suffering cholera patient; the disease can kill in under 24 hours if untreated; with treatment (primarily simple re-hydration) recovery is almost certain

This is horrific news in the midst of a cholera epidemic, one that has now spread to a region with some 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons, the majority living in camps that have no adequate sanitation or provision of clean water. That it comes at the very height of the rainy season means that the cholera epidemic in Darfur-and elsewhere in Sudan-will remain explosive for the foreseeable future.

The most urgent need is for massive quantities of re-hydration equipment-followed closely by rapid improvements in sanitation and the supplies of clean water. And yet Radio Dabanga reports:

As coordinator of the camp in Nyala state, Yagoub Abdallah Furi, informed Radio Dabanga yesterday, "There are three medical isolation centres belonging to two organisations from the United States that have been established in the camp since the cholera broke out here in June." Currently there are 37 hospitalised cases at the camp's isolation wards. "There is a large shortage of intravenous solutions."

And yet speaking of Central Darfur-and the same is true in all the Darfur states-OCHA declares in its most recent humanitarian bulletin on Sudan: "humanitarian access and insecurity remain major challenges for the implementation of key health and protection interventions" in Central Darfur." Again, the same is true of all five Darfur states: access is denied to many locations and security issues that Khartoum refuses to address seriously prevent critical deliveries of humanitarian assistance.

It is a despicable act of cowardice for the UN World Health Organization to continue its refusal to use the world "cholera" for the exploding epidemic in Sudan, and Darfur in particular. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, deserves particular condemnation for his failure of leadership at the critical time (see my "open letter" to Dr. Ghebreyesus | July 24, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-25t/).

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42 cholera dead in South Darfur camp

Radio Dabanga | 22, 2017 NYALA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/42-cholera-dead-in-south-darfur-campugust

In two months, 42 people have died of cholera in Kalma camp for displaced people in South Darfur; 539 others have been infected.

[This is one camp in Darfur, if the largest; the late arrival of the cholera epidemic in Darfur makes these figures terrifying, especially at the height of the rainy season, when sanitation maintenance and provision of clean water is most difficult-ER]

The deaths occurred between 26 June and 20 August, the coordinator of the camp in Nyala state, Yagoub Abdallah Furi, informed Radio Dabanga yesterday. "There are three medical isolation centres belonging to two organisations from the United States that have been established in the camp since the cholera broke out here in June." Currently there are 37 hospitalised cases at the camp's isolation wards. "There is a large shortage of intravenous solutions. We hope organisations working in the medical field and the Ministry of Health to provide us with medicines." The epidemic reached Manawashi, north of Nyala city, in the beginning of August.

Central Darfur

At least 36 people have been infected with cholera in Central Darfur's Nierteti in the past 11 days. Four of them died, sources reported to Radio Dabanga. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its latest biweekly bulletin that "humanitarian access and insecurity remain major challenges for the implementation of key health and protection interventions" in Central Darfur.

[Substantial improvement in humanitarian access to Darfur is one of two primary conditions to be met by the Khartoum regime to secure a permanent lifting of U.S. economic sanctions. Access continues to be denied to as many as 1 million people in Darfur, and total humanitarian embargoes remain in place in virtually all areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile controlled by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North-ER]

"Nierteti's hospital faces gaps in medicines, including oral and intravenous re-hydration solutions [..]," OCHA stated. "In Zalingei hospital, there are several sanitation issues, including lack of latrines and evidence of improper solid waste management [..]."

National epidemic

The National Epidemiological Corporation reported in early July that nearly 24,000 Sudanese have been infected and 940 cholera patients have died since the outbreak of the infectious disease in Blue Nile state in August last year. The Sudanese authorities however, refuse to call the disease by its name, and instead refer to it as "Acute Watery Diarrhoea."

[Based on reporting by Radio Dabanga and other news sources in Sudan over the past year, these figures wildly understate the extent of the infections and total mortality-precisely what we would expect in any promulgation of data by regime-controlled organizations/"corporations"-ER]

The National Intelligence and Security Service has repeatedly warned medics and the press in the country not to make mention of cholera.

-- 

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

 

ereeves@smith.edu

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