Heat stroke claims 13 lives in Port Sudan, hospital staff strike continues

Displaced people are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke, as they often lack proper shelter from the sun (File photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / UNAMID)

Sweltering temperatures in Port Sudan have led to a surge in heat stroke cases, including deaths, according to the Red Sea state Health Ministry. Medical assistance is limited in the state capital, as the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital emergency staff are on strike to protest delayed salary payments.

The Red Sea state Ministry of Health reported 13 fatalities and 42 cases of heat stroke in Port Sudan since June. Dr Hisham Osman, director of the General Department of Emergency and Epidemic Control at the ministry, explained that Port Sudan experiences an annual surge in heat stroke cases in the warm season, which started in June.

Osman explained that displaced people are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke “due to the lack of awareness on preventive measures, and the overcrowded shelters they inhabit.” He added that locals tend to be more familiar with the necessary precautions to combat the sweltering temperatures.

To address the issue, the Ministry of Health established a specialised centre to provide treatment for heat-related illnesses. The centre consists of “two separate wards, one for men and the other for women, catering to injuries linked to high temperatures and humidity”.

Osman emphasised the importance of staying hydrated by regularly consuming ample fluids to mitigate the risk of heat stroke. He advised against wearing tight, dark clothing, and recommended wearing breathable, cotton clothes. He also warned against spending time in poorly ventilated areas to prevent heat stress.

He urged companies and investors, especially those employing workers in physically demanding sectors like ports, to reduce working hours during extreme heat conditions to minimise the risk of heat stroke.

In May, Radio Dabanga reported overcrowding in Port Sudan as people flocked to the port city for safety. Many international organisations, including the United Nations, relocated to Port Sudan after the outbreak of war in mid-April between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Hospital strike

The Port Sudan Teaching Hospital Emergency Department remained suspended for the fifth consecutive day, due to the ongoing nurses strike to protest the non-payment of salaries for four months.

According to activist Amin Hamid, “the strike has now spread to other departments, with the participation rate reaching 80 per cent at the hospital.” The hospital’s pharmacies are also affected by the strike. Hamid expressed that the government’s failure to address the nurses’ demands has exacerbated the situation, as they have failed to supply basic provisions for medical staff to reach the hospital. He added that “the hospital is missing the most basic medical supplies, and air conditioners are not functioning despite the high temperatures.”