Sudan: Health challenges in the Sustainable Development Goals era

Sudan 2018

United Nations World Food Program C-130 Hercules transports parked at Lokichokio Airport, Kenya. After the World Food Program improves the Rumbek airstrip now that it has been cleared of unexploded ordnance, these heavy aircraft will be able to dramatically increase the amount of food, medicine, clothing and shelter needed in the Rumbek region of southern Sudan. Matt Murphy, U.S. State Department (2004)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Azza Abdelmagid, a Sudanese 4th-year medical student from University of Alzaiem Alazhari. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Health is a basic human right and everyone deserve to have access to a high quality health care services. This article is meant to discuss the health challenges in Sudan and the way to move forward.

Basic figures

Sudan is third biggest country in Africa. It is situated in northeast Africa with a population reaching 39.6 million in 2015. It is estimated that life expectancy at birth is 63 years (2012). The Under-five mortality rate (probability of dying by age 5 per 1000 live births) (2015) 70.1 and Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) (2015) 311 [1].

Health challenges

First, the challenges within the health system, the health system is stratified to national/ federal, state and locality levels. There is an enormous number of policies, short and long-term strategies but there is very poor implementations [2].  At institutional level, today many hospitals and health centers have been privatized. Also, there is some health facilities that are not functioning. In addition, lack of economic stability is a serious limitation to the health sector. Poorly established infrastructures, inadequate sanitation and access to clean water, the environmental crises such as the raising effect of climate change are huge challenges affecting human health.  Furthermore, Sudan has humanitarian crisis in Darfur and conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states [3]. These crises has affect the health priories and needs in those regions.

Second, challenges concerning health workers and the quality of medical training. Today Thousands of students are graduating annually. This rise up an interesting question, do we need this huge number of doctors?  Do we have the capacity to train and equip this huge number of doctors?  It is worth mentioning that there is defect in doctor-patient, nurse-patient and midwifery-patient ratios we still far from recommended ratios. Above all the challenges I mentioned earlier, we face a very serious challenge of health workers migration. Millions of doctors and nurses are inflating Sudan on daily bases.

Sudan and SDGs

The Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) has come following the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs). According to the Sudan’s MDGs report, in Sudan there was no much progress achieved [4]. At that time and since the late 1950s, the north-south civil war was taking place. Nearly all of the governmental expenditure was to forced army and toward this ongoing war. Today in my opinion, it is very challenging to address the SDGs in 2030. We are still lagging behind.

The way to move forward

In my humble opinion, the way to change begins with true political will. Also, urgent and reliable economic interventions are essential to fix the current deterioration in the economic status -specifically the hyperinflation. Well-designed developmental plans and interventions are required to increasing the health financing. Furthermore, health cedar has to empowered and well equipped. Medical research must be supported and funded to improve the quality of health planning and measure implementation of policies and strategies. Needless to acknowledge the importance of having peace in all regions of the Sudan.

References

  1. who.int. (2018). GHO | Key Country Indicators. [online] Available at: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.cco [Accessed 12 Mar. 2018]
  2. Ebrahim E, Ghebrehiwot L, Abdalgfar T, Juni M. Health Care System in Sudan: Review and Analysis of Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats (SWOT Analysis). Sudan Journal of Medical Sciences. 2017;12(3).
  3. Sudan: Conflict and peace [Internet]. Peace Insight. 2018 [cited 12 March 2018]. Available from: https://www.peaceinsight.org/conflicts/sudan/
  4. National Population Council (NPC/GS) Ministry of Welfare & Social Security. Sudan Millennium Development Goals Progress Report. 2010.

About the author

Azza Abdelmagid is a Sudanese 4th-year medical student from University of Alzaiem Alazhari. She is an active member of Medical Students’ International Network-Sudan (MedSIN-Sudan. She is the developmental assistant in the standing committee of sexual and reproductive health including HIV/AIDS. She is a member of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) network in Sudan. In addition, she is a freelance translator in a digital platform called Andariya. Andriya aims to enrich the positive digital content on Sudan and South Sudan. She is volunteering with women empowerment program called Alsudaniya Mentoring. She believes in youth and women empowerment.

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