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WorldAfricaThey die without help. The tragedy of infants in an orphanage in Sudan

They die without help. The tragedy of infants in an orphanage in Sudan

Earlier this week, air strikes and artillery targeted the area where the orphanage is located, according to medical sources, who stressed that “the children had to be evacuated from one of the rooms of the orphanage, after an explosion occurred in a nearby building.”

Scenes of sadness in the eyes of a doctor Abeer Abdallah recounted how the cries of children echoed throughout the large orphanage, known as Dar al-Maiqoma, as fierce fires rocked the surroundings. Death made its way into the house, where there were babies on the upper floors. In this regard, the doctor explained that they were “prone to severe malnutrition and dehydration because there were not enough staff to take care of them”. Abdullah said “his downstairs medical clinic was seeing a number of weak newborns, and some of them died after running a high fever.” “They had to breastfeed her every 3 hours. There was no one to do it,” Abdallah, who is the medical director of the Maygoma home, told Reuters. Calling from her workplace, where the cries of children could be heard in the background, she said: “We tried to rely on the feeders, but most of the time we couldn’t save these children. ”

Tragic numbers

Regarding the number of children who lost their lives, Abdullah explained: “The daily death rate has risen to between two and four cases, and sometimes more than that.” “At least 50 children, including at least 20 infants, died in the orphanage in the six weeks following the outbreak of conflict in mid-April. At least 13 of them died on Friday May 26. A senior orphanage official confirmed the figures, while a surgeon who volunteered to work at the orphanage during the clashes said dozens of orphans had died. The two said the deaths were ‘mainly newborns and others under the age of one’. All three sources cited malnutrition, dehydration and sepsis as leading causes of death. New deaths have occurred in the past two days.

What are the causes of infant mortality? Reuters reported seeing “7 death certificates dated Saturday and Sunday” provided by Heba Abdullah, an orphan who later became one of the care givers at the home. Death certificates said they all died “as a result of an acute drop in blood circulation”, and fever, malnutrition or sepsis contributed to all but one of their deaths. Director General of the Khartoum State Ministry of Social Development, which oversees the care centres, Siddig Al-Fariny, acknowledged the high number of deaths in the Maygoma outbreak, which he attributed to a staff shortage and frequent power cuts due to the struggle. Without ceiling fans and air conditioners running, rooms become sweltering in the May heat in Khartoum, and power outages make it difficult to sanitize equipment.

The director of emergencies at Sudan’s health ministry, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, said a team is investigating what is happening in Dar Al-Maygoma and will publish the results as soon as the investigation is complete.

Children without care Maigoma Orphanage, officially known as Orphan Child Care Home, is a 3-storey building located in the center of Khartoum, close to combat zones. The Maygoma home was established in 1961 and typically receives hundreds of children each year, according to Doctors Without Borders, the charity that supports the home. The home was suffering even before the outbreak of the conflict, as it housed around 400 children under the age of five, many of them infants. The orphans live in overcrowded quarters, with an average of 25 children per room, and a bed can often fit two or three infants, said an official at the home and Doctors Without Borders nurses who worked there last year. The orphanage has seen waves of sharp increases in deaths over the years. And it suffered from hygiene-related problems, low wages for workers, a shortage of staff and a lack of funding for hospital care, according to Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders confirmed that Dar Al Maygoma recorded a 75% mortality rate in 2003.

Unknown victims The health repercussions imposed by the conflict have affected Sudanese of all ages, as deaths have also occurred at an elderly care center in Khartoum, according to caregiver Radwan Nuri. Nouri said that 5 of the elderly residing at the “Al-Daw Hajouj” center died of starvation and lack of care. For his part, Al-Farini said the reported deaths at the aged care center are within the “normal rate”, denying that any of the inmates died of starvation. The general secretary of the preliminary committee of the Sudanese doctors’ union, Atiya Abdullah, declared that the death toll due to violence “represents only a small part of those who die of diseases”, stressing that “the health situation is deteriorating each day “.

Sudan, with a population of around 49 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. The fighting has affected already weak health services and other essential services, including hospitals and airports.

Nearly 16 million people needed humanitarian aid before the war started. The United Nations says that number has now risen to 25 million.

According to the World Health Organization, more than two-thirds of hospitals in combat zones have ceased to function.

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Arab Desk
Arab Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Arab Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.


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