Kidney patients protest in Port Sudan over lack of dialysis machines

Kidney failure patients hold signs calling for dialysis machines to be provided and properly distributed (Photo: Supplied)

Patients suffering from kidney failure in Port Sudan held a series of vigils on Saturday in front of the dialysis centre, condemning the Ministry of Health’s failure to allocate dialysis machines received through foreign aid.

Protesters inside and outside the dialysis centre, including the patients, carried banners demanding the Ministry of Health’s attention to their plight. Last week, the city’s electricity department threatened to cut off power to the centre if its electricity debts were not paid.

Earlier in May, the centre experienced a two-day shutdown due to a shortage of dialysis solutions. Several patients, speaking to Radio Dabanga, expressed their frustration with the centre’s frequent interruptions. 

Abu Fatima Jilani, the centre’s department director, attributed the two-day stop to the National Kidney Centre’s management.

In response to the ongoing protests, Nizar Zalafo, kidney transplant consultant and director of the National Kidney Centre, visited the Dialysis Centre in Port Sudan on Sunday. 

According to a press release from the Federal Ministry of Health, Zalafo met with officials at the centre and the kidney patients association, reaffirming the centre’s commitments to kidney patients across Sudan and announcing that new dialysis machines were on their way.

“We are committed to ensuring that kidney patients in all of Sudan receive the necessary care. There are dedicated machines coming to the centre,” said Zalafo.

Zalafo also discussed the centre’s management and the financial allocations from the ministry. During his visit, he inspected a proposed site for starting kidney surgery and transplantation.

The Ministry of Health’s failure to allocate dialysis machines is yet another grievance for kidney failure patients in Port Sudan, who are still reeling from last September’s crisis when a 36-year-old patient died due to a power outage caused by insufficient fuel for the generator supplying electricity to the dialysis centre.

Mousa Takarawi, a patient at the dialysis centre, mourned the loss and cited the “growing fuel crisis and the shortage of dialysis solutions” as primary concerns affecting patients. 

The scarcity of essential medical supplies had significantly impacted over 360 patients, including at least 100 displaced from Khartoum due to destructive clashes that had ravaged the capital’s healthcare infrastructure.

Compounding these issues, the staff at the dialysis centre had not received their salaries. Takarawi highlighted this in an interview with Radio Dabanga, stressing the urgency of addressing these problems, especially with the presence of the “entire federal government in Port Sudan.”