Khartoum witnesses ‘significant increase’ in dengue cases amidst medical shortages

A patient receives treatment in Sudan (File Photo: MSF)

KHARTOUM – March 24, 2023

The United Doctors’ Office told Radio Dabanga that there has been a significant increase in dengue fever cases in Khartoum State, whilst warning of the ‘terrible deterioration’ of the situation in health institutions.

Adiba Ibrahim, a member of the United Doctors’ Office, explained to Radio Dabanga yesterday that it is necessary to improve measures to curb the disease and highlighted that there is a severe lack of the simplest aids, such as blood bags, in health institutions at the moment.

Dengue cases have been on the rise in Sudan’s capital for several weeks now. Members of the United Doctors’ Office have previously attributed the dengue fever epidemic in Khartoum and other states to the Ministry of Health’s late response and failure to curb the spread with “sound scientific methods”.

In the interview with Radio Dabanga, Dr. Ibrahim also said that the official statistics are ‘weak’ and that there is a discrepancy between the statistics of dengue fever-related deaths and illnesses published by the Ministry of Health versus those published by hospitals.

Radio Dabanga reported at the end of last year that dengue statistics in Sudan are hard to measure, and real numbers are likely to be higher, because there is only one laboratory in the whole of Sudan that can confirm vector-borne diseases.

Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria transmitted by ‘vectors’, such as mosquitos or ticks. These diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, zika, chikunguya, and Rift Valley fever.

Sudan’s annual rainy season routinely leaves swaths of flood damage. The resulting standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and malaria (File photo: Dar Al salaam Development Association / UNAMID)

Dengue fever, also called dengue haemorrhagic fever, can manifest as severe acute viral infections, usually with a sudden onset of fever, malaise, headache, and myalgia followed by pharyngitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rash, and haemorrhagic manifestations. The outcome is fatal in more than 50 per cent of the cases, the World Health Organisation reports.

Cases of dengue fever and malaria usually increase in Sudan after floods, which allow diseases transmitted by mosquitoes to spread faster as post-flood conditions are ideal for these insects who lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant waters.

These conditions are worsening as climate change is causing the weather to become more extreme in Sudan.