The Sudanese Minister of Health, Bahar Idris Abugarda, announced Sudan to be clear of the acute watery diarrhoea epidemic. His ministry completed all arrangements to declare Sudan free of the disease.
Abugarda said on Wednesday, during a visit to North Darfur, that North Darfur has not seen any cases of diarrhoeal disease “for a month”. A wave of the epidemic, by the Sudanese government referred to as acute watery diarrhoea instead of cholera, has hit parts of the country since late last year.
“All the cases that have recently been recorded in the country until today are seven suspected cases; which are confirming the trend to declare the country free of the disease.”
The total number of reported cases of 'acute watery diarrhoea' across 18 states of Sudan has reached over 35,000 people – including 800 related deaths since August 2016 – according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sudanese Ministry of Health this week.
These casualty numbers conflict with what Sudanese doctors of the National Epidemiological Corporation reported in early July: nearly 24,000 Sudanese have been infected and 940 cholera patients have died since the outbreak of the infectious disease in Blue Nile state in August last year.
Minister Abugarda announced the commitment of the ministry to provide equipment for the operation of health facilities in North Darfur. He promised the establishment of an integrated laboratory for public health in El Fasher and providing the state with health cadres in accordance with the project to expand health care services and the dissemination of precise specialties implemented by the Federal Ministry.
In spite of numerous independent confirmations (conducted according to WHO standards) that the disease currently ravaging Sudan is indeed cholera, the Government of Sudan and several international organisations still refuse to refer to it by this name. Doctors and affected people in Sudan, but also human rights and civil society organisations have urged the WHO to mobilise its efforts to provide patients with the necessary treatment and protection. But the apparent unwillingness of Khartoum to declare the epidemic severely affected national and international efforts to provide proper treatment and protection.
Sudan’s first cases of cholera were recorded in Blue Nile state in August last year. Since then, the disease spread in eastern Sudan, and later to the Northern State and central Sudan’s El Gezira. In April, sources in White Nile state reported a rapid spread of cholera. The disease then spread to North Kordofan, and fully hit Khartoum in May.