Sudan: lifesaving vaccines for children destroyed in power outages amidst violence
KHARTOUM, 20 April 2023 –Power outages across Sudan have destroyed cold chain storage facilities for lifesaving vaccines, as well as the national stock of insulin and several antibiotics, putting millions of children at risk of disease and further health complications, Save the Children said.
The aid organisation said that at least 32 vaccination sites it supports have been affected, calling for an immediate and lasting end to violence so that critical humanitarian assistance can get to communities who need it.
Health facilities have been depleted of staff, medical supplies and fuel and at least 39 hospitals are completely out of service, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Union. There have been reports of a children’s hospital being evacuated. Six days of intense violence has put healthcare, already declining as Sudan faced its worst humanitarian crisis in decades, out of reach for almost all of the country’s 22 million children, 12% of whom are suffering from malnutrition[i] and are vulnerable to other diseases.
Many communities across the country, including the capital city of Khartoum have now gone for days without water, and children and families have been unable to stock up on food.
Already, 12 million people in Sudan – a quarter of the population – were living with acute hunger. Of the 2.7 million children living with malnutrition, 522,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM)[ii].
Arshad Malik, Country Director for Save the Children in Sudan, said: “Children are the first casualties of war – and as this crisis unfolds we are seeing that this is not just with weapons but with the destruction of lifesaving health services.
“Sudan was already going through its worst ever humanitarian emergency due to years of conflict, climate-induced natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and economic crisis. Even before this sudden uptick in violence, 15.8 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance.
“The country’s already depleted health system has been plunged into chaos and children, particularly those living with malnutrition or other health conditions, will be the first victims. Not only do we need to see this ceasefire last indefinitely – we need to make something of it by providing healthcare, food and water for children who have endured days of terror. We need the international community to do what it can to help authorities rebuild our health system and provide funding for the country’s hunger and healthcare crisis.”
Save the Children supports more than 40 sites for Covid-19 and other child vaccinations across Sudan.
Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983 to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the drought in western Sudan. Since then, Save the Children continued programming for children and families affected by conflict, displacement, extreme poverty, hunger and a lack of basic services. Many of the children and families we serve are among the most vulnerable and hardest to reach.
In 2022, Save the Children directly reached 2.1 million people, with 1.5 million of them children, with programming focused on child protection, access to quality education, health and nutrition support and responding to emergencies.
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[ii] Malnutrition in Sudan | UNICEF Sudan
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