Hospital patients in Kassala suffering from chikungunya fever have been transferred to health centres to “show a decrease of their numbers in the main hospitals”, witnesses claim.
A government official in Kassala state justified the action to move a number of chikungunya patients away from the main hospitals by saying it “aims to transfer the patients to health centres to ensure access to the service for free”.
Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that the hospitals in Kassala town were “emptied” before the visit of Prime Minister Motaz Mousa on Monday.
Ibrahim El Sheikh told this station that the aim of the transfer of chikungunya patients is “to show a decrease of their numbers in the hospitals and give the impression to the visiting delegation that the epidemic is decreasing, as the state governor insists in his interviews”.
On Sunday the children’s ward, laboratory, and pharmacy at Kassala Teaching Hospital were closed after two children vomited blood. One of the children died.
On Monday, Prime Minister Motaz Mousa visited several health centres in the eastern and western parts of Kassala, including Hai El Arab, El Sikka Hadeed, and El Hidaya centre in El Khatamiya. He issued a decision to send two tons of pesticides and instructed the sanitation of the environment to be addressed.
Figures don’t correspond
Adam Jamaa, the governor of Kassala, admitted the existence of daily deaths in the state, but he claims that they are “unrelated to the disease”. He confirmed that 10,900 infections have been diagnosed. Eleven days ago, Governor Jamaa acknowledged the death of seven people from chikungunya fever, and that more than 6,000 people have been infected in the recently confirmed outbreak of the virus.
According to unofficial statistics issued by the popular committees that oversee the graveyards, 25 people are dying per week.
‘Declare disaster zone’
A number of residents said that the authorities should have declared Kassala as a disaster area, so that activities to address the disease and prevent the spread would be carried out at national and international levels. Before, independent Member of Parliament Mubarak El Nur called for the dismissal of Governor Adam Jamaa for “his cover-up of the kankasha fever”.
Chikungunya, in Sudan popularly known as kankasha, is a virus transmitted by the same kinds of mosquitoes that spread dengue and Zika virus. It is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever, frequently accompanied by joint pain.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Ibrahim El Sheikh demanded that schools be closed so that the number of infected would be reduced. “People have stopped the work in Kassala although it is the main market for the surrounding countryside.”
El Sheikh said that although there have been initiatives and appeals to confront the crisis from in and out of Sudan, they did not notice any activity to provide medical or humanitarian assistance to affected people by any party.
On social media platforms, activists and others have gathered to comment on the situation. On Twitter for example the hashtag #KassalaIsDying is being used (#كسلا_تحتضر).
The federal Ministry of Health has confirmed the outbreak of the virus chikungunya in Kassala. Noteworthy is that Kassala declared a State of Emergency starting December 2017, justifying the measure by claiming that the state can better combat human trafficking and the smuggling of consumer goods.
The authorities in Sennar have declared a state of alert to counter the spread of the chikungunya fever, after it recently appeared in El Gedaref state. Sanitary measures have been taken for travel buses and the first awareness campaigns have been set-up.
The director-general of the Sennar Teaching Hospital said that as there is no cure for the disease, he called upon people to use mosquito nets in their homes.