WHO and ECHO support to Sudan for COVID-19 helped scale up local response to new health emergencies – Sudan

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July 21, 2022 – Since the announcement of the first COVID-19 positive case in Sudan on March 13, 2020, the number of confirmed cases and associated deaths has continued to rise beyond the country’s response capacity. Thanks to the World Health Organization and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO); however, Khartoum State has not only been able to navigate the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also respond to other health emergencies, particularly traumatic injuries.

Sudan is one of the countries in the Region most affected by recurrent health risks and emergencies. Moreover, the fragility of the country’s economy, exacerbated by political unrest, only compounds the difficulties faced by local health authorities in responding to recurrent and often synchronous epidemics.

The health scenario reached a breaking point at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the impossibility for the country to access the homes of suspected COVID-19 cases in the 3 main localities of Khartoum State ( Khartoum, Bahri and Omdurman) before 2 – sometimes 3 – days had passed, due to lack of vehicles, lack of payment for Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) and lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) .

WHO provided 15 vehicles, payment for rapid response teams, capacity building, supply of PPE and test kits, and technical support for surveillance data management. Seven ambulances equipped with PPE and medical supplies to transport COVID-19 patients from the community to primary isolation centers and from hospitals to secondary isolation centers were also donated by WHO.

Thus, the response to alerts has increased from 2 to 3 days to a maximum of 24 hours.

With regard to case management, WHO support was made possible by the ECHO project, which provided essential drugs, intensive care equipment and consumables, and built the capacity of more than 400 clinical staff in isolation centers in 6 states in Sudan.

This ambulance system later proved crucial for the transfer of injured patients associated with ongoing civil unrest and protests.

Training of ambulance staff on the care of trauma patients during transfer was carried out in collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as the provision of trauma-related supplies.

A referral system based on donated ambulances was put in place to transfer injured patients from frontline hospitals to 18 urgent care units across the state, with triage maintained at target facilities.

The public health system in Sudan is plagued by limitations in the routine supply of essential medicines and infection prevention and control consumables. During the first wave of COVID-19, services at public health centers were interrupted due to reports of COVID-19 cases among medical staff, as well as a lax attitude of doctors and nurses to regarding infection prevention measures.

WHO provided support by establishing infection prevention and control programs and assigning focal points to more than 100 public health centers in 7 locations in Khartoum state, helping to keep services running and to increased utilization rates.

Targeted health care centers rank first in terms of utilization and population size in Khartoum State. WHO provided personal protective equipment and IPC supplies to all targeted facilities on a monthly basis, while ensuring their rational use with training and supportive supervision to nearly 900 public health workers.

In addition, minor rehabilitation for basic infection prevention and control – such as triage area, water supply, waste management and maintenance of latrine services – is underway at health centers. public health.

The surveillance system set up by WHO for infections of health care workers with COVID-19, with monthly reports to the Ministry of Health and the Organization, has succeeded in reducing the infection rate by 80%.

During subsequent waves of COVID-19, the functionality of primary health care centers was maintained with no reported shortages of personal protective equipment.

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