الثلاثاء، 28 أكتوبر 2014

The Government of Sudan Must Act Immediately to Control or Prevent an Ebola Outbreak

The issue of Ebola Virus disease is creating a lot of debates in Sudan while the authorities being ambiguous and giving shady statements to calm the people.

As I mentioned earlier in the post Ebola in Sudan?  unofficial sources prefers to remain anonymous testified that there was a case identified in Khartoum hospital. Oil companies in West Kordofan warned its' employees as another case identified in Alfola hospital. All the government efforts since then was meeting with Ethiopian authorities, attending a meeting in Tunisia, creating a kind of mechanism with DRC & CAR as well as implementing emergency measures in airports and keeping a blind eye on the fact that, there is a huge population mobility among the loose boarders of Sudan, specifically with West African countries. In North Darfur, there is a cluster of villages known as Korma, that is connected by a long trade route to Mali. While Algineana; the capital of West Darfur is well known for its perfumes and fabrics market, enriched with West African products from Nigeria, Ghana and other countries. Never mentioning the across boarder tribes that move all the way long with Chad and refugees movement between Central African Republic and Sudan. Basically; the population mobility to Sudan cannot be regulated neither Ebola could be controlled through controlling the airports. I might hear that there is no Ebola in Chad, Ghana, CAR and Nigeria is Ebola free (though it wasn't few weeks ago). The mentioned examples is to demonstrate that controlling Ebola through monitoring population mobility seems nearly impossible.

 Khalid Abdel Ati, a Sudanese pathologist told Sudanese Dream "The danger in Ebola outbreak extends beyond the high mortality rates to the destruction of the whole health system. Whenever there is case of Ebola discovered in a certain hospital; people would ban that hospital and hence might die as a result of complications of other health conditions. The health workers would be reluctant to provide medical care to any patients with hemorrhage of unknown cause. Never mentioning that the reagents to test the Ebola are not available in Sudan as well as the laboratory safety for handling suspected specimen is Level 4. Upon this circumstances, any case of hemorrhage should be handled as Ebola until proofed to be another condition"

The fact that Ebola cannot be tested in Sudan was confirmed by Dr. Hayat Salah, the head of Epidemiology department in the ministry of health in an interview with Alsaiha, a Sudanese daily newspaper on 27th, Oct 2014 issue.

Panic of Ebola spread widely among Sudanese social media users, specially after the news of an 8 years old child died of acute hemorrhage in Ibrahim Malik hospital in Khartoum. The Khartoum state ministry of health spokesperson Dr. Moez Albakheet stated that the girl died of severe Malaria, which for many Sudanese people who knew Malaria for decades was simply not convincing.

I think an Ebola emergency is waving on the air which is beyond any individual or voluntary groups capacity. Not having the means to verify a suspected case of Ebola is actually Ebola that doesn't mean an outbreak didn't and wouldn't happen. As a Sudanese citizen; I urge the government of Sudan to act immediately and do the following:

1. set out laboratories that could test Ebola in different parts of the country as soon as possible.
2. Launch massive health education programs through local media and door to door advises, the messages on the disease transmission and symptoms must be delivered as widely as possible. It should reach all the citizens in urban centres and IDP settings.
3. Take the necessary protective measures to health workers seriously. Patients shouldn't pay for the water and sanitation products when they need care in public hospitals. They should not be asked by health workers to bring water and soap, as its happening in many hospitals. This is your responsibility and obligation towards the health workers as well as the patients.

I'm demanding the government to act not because it represents me, neither many Sudanese people, but I assume at least some officials in the ministry of health might have sincere commitment to Abokrat's medical oath.

الأحد، 26 أكتوبر 2014

Reclaiming the People's Power

On Tuesday 21st, October 2014 Ibrahim Ghandour, the Sudanese presidential assistant announced that Elbashir will be running for presidency again in 2015. This was approved on the 25th October by the general conference of National Congress Party according to the official website of Albashir.

I was not amazed by the news but by some reactions of Sudanese community online, who expressed anger, surprise and frustration.

I assume, if Albashir has chosen to resign or will not seek re-election, that wouldn't make him a hero neither manifest a democratic behavior after 25 years of oppressing the Sudanese people. His regime, the NCP would still exist with another foreground. If he would step down, would we let him go without achieving justice for the people he killed, tortured and forced them to flee their homeland?
One of NCP's propaganda to hold on power is to convince the people that there are no alternatives to lead and govern beside them. Moreover they drive people blindly of the consequences of their presence in office. The question of the alternatives to NCP has been answered by several initiatives from Sudanese youth, who stood up to meet the demands of the people whenever the government failed to meet them. A few examples of those initiatives are Education Without Boarders, providing volunteer teachers, free books and maintenance to public schools. Shariee Alhawadith which covers the costs of emergency medications of people who cannot afford it. Nafeer initiative of 2013 which was found in response to floods and rainfall disasters in Khartoum and recently the Sudan Shadow Government Initiative which presents an alternative program to manage the state and works as a monitor of the government performance. Never mentioning the unbreakable efforts by Girifna, a non-violent resistance movement which is challenging and protesting against the regime regardless of the crackdown on the movement's members.

I see the alternatives for NCP regime in youth, the people with motives to create a change and lead to serve the people of Sudan. The alternatives might fail, but also there is a possibility of success which cannot be verified unless they found the space to operate and implement their aspirations. However, gaining this space will not come as a result of Albashir's resignation but as a result of toppling the regime down through popular peaceful revolution. As long as Albashir has the power to choose whether to seek election or not, we remain passive and even more powerless if we seek salvation in the hands of the oppressor. Reclaiming this power relies on our ability to rebel, and change needs the courage to lead.

الأربعاء، 22 أكتوبر 2014

Ebola in Sudan?

According to WHO, the most severe outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease has started in west Africa in Dec 2013 when the first case was identified in Guinea. The outbreak incited a worldwide panic as there is no certain medication for the disease and it has 90% mortality rates.

Fears among Sudanese people from Ebola outbreak in Sudan evolved after the Sudanese Football Association offered to host the Africa Cup of Nation finals in January 2015 after Morocco rejected hosting the tournaments. The news incited public anger among social media users, saying that our lives and well being worth more than your relations to confederation of African football. The consumers' protection society has issued a press statement on 14 Oct against the decision calling the officials to postpone hosting the event. Although the government of Sudan has refused to host the tournaments; yet the Sudanese Football Association seems not convinced by the decision according to Sudan Tribune.

Sudan is a country with loose boarders' control and a huge population mobility from and to west and central Africa with across boarders tribes, conflict driven displacement and migration; never mentioning the centralized health services and poor primary health care that exclude millions from accessing health services and makes it difficult to diagnose and report the possible cases of Ebola.

On Oct 19 an unofficial source in Khartoum Teaching Hospital confirmed that one patient was diagnosed with Ebola, One day after, workers at oil companies in West Kordofan State said that they have received alerts from their employers as there is a patient was identified with Ebola in Alfola hospital, however there is no official statement about the two cases yet.

On 21st, October, Altaghyeer an online newspaper cited a story from Almeghar Alsyasi, a daily newspaper in Sudan claims that WHO announced there are 19 identified cases in South Sudan, and Sudan government announced emergency situation on its boarders and ports. However nothing on WHO  website on Ebola cases in South Sudan till the moment of writing this post. According to Sudan Tribune, the cabinet in South Sudan advised people not to shake hands in order to avoid catching the infection, yet this sounds not enough as there are more than 91% of the population lacking the improved sanitation facilities(world bank statistics of 2009-2013) beside the poor hygiene, lack of clean water resources in both Sudan and south Sudan.

The government of Sudan seems to be taking measures of boarders control, while Sudan Shadow Government; a youth initiative aiming to change the political practice in Sudan has prepared and published health education materials on Ebola prevention. The following days might be hard on Sudanese people and even the whole regions of East Africa and Middle East.

الأربعاء، 8 أكتوبر 2014

Female Students Arrested over Al Adha Feast in Sudan

On Tuesday Limited news spread among Sudanese social media users on  NISS and police forces raiding Al barracks dorms and arresting female students who couldn't travel to spend Al Adha feast and holidays with their families.

A human rights activist working with (Hugoog group) preferred to stay anonymous narrated the incidents as follows:

"On October 1st, 2014 there was an evacuation alert for the dormitories by the National Fund to Support Students, mainly for residents who are not attending the University of Khartoum. NISS and police forces surrounded the dormitories since Sunday 5th, October and arrested an unknown number of female student while they were trying to access the building after attending a celebration organized by the regional associations. On Monday NISS and police forces bombed the dormitories with tear gas and raided the buildings, eye witnesses testified that they beaten up the students with electrical rods and steaks. Accordingly many of them has been transferred to Khartoum hospital emergency room. While officers in plain civilian clothes step directly into the rooms of politically active students and arrested them immediately, until now there are 22 arrests on Monday only and the rest of the students were forced to evacuate the building"

It worth-noting that most of the female students who were unable to spend the Eid holidays with their family are originally from war torn zones, mainly Darfur region. With the high costs of flights to the region and the risks of road trips due to insecurity and road cuts, its nearly impossible for the girls to go back home during holidays. Some of them stay for years until they manage to get back.

The National Fund to Support Students which issued the evacuation order is the government entity that managing the students' housing across the country. 

Trials has been made to get a statement from one of the student detainees' brother but no response from his side so far.