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Sudanese doctors strike after assault on colleagues

May 22 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Still from a video report of the Sudanese Ministry of Health about the assault on doctors at the Omdurman Teaching Hospital, May 22, 2020 (Health Ministry FB page)
Still from a video report of the Sudanese Ministry of Health about the assault on doctors at the Omdurman Teaching Hospital, May 22, 2020 (Health Ministry FB page)

On Thursday, the United Doctors Office announced a strike in all hospitals in Sudan for a period of 72 hours, after four doctors in the Omdurman Teaching Hospital were injured in an attack on Wednesday evening.

Reportedly the medical police at the hospital refused to hand a form to people. In response, the people called on others outside the hospital to attack “anyone dressed in white”, a nurse reported to the Ministry of Health. He himself and four doctors were hit by stones thrown at them.  

All doctors working in the Omdurman Hospital laid down their tools immediately, in solidarity with their colleagues.

The United Doctors Office, which includes the Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee, the Sudanese Physicians Syndicate, and the Specialised Consultants Committee, called on doctors to gradually stop working for three days, except for emergency cases.

In a statement on Thursday, the Doctors Office expressed its concern about the delayed response from the authorities, “hours after the attack”.

The doctors will submit a memorandum to the Sovereign Council, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the ministers of Justice and Health, and the country’s Attorney General calling for the enactment of the law that stipulates the protection of medical personnel.

The Sudanese Ministry of Health has condemned the violence at the Omdurman Teaching Hospital. In a report on Thursday, the ministry emphasised “the necessity of concerted public, official and legal efforts to protect medical staff in their workplace”.

In response, Lt Gen Mohammed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) directed his troops, in coordination with other regular forces, to “urgently and immediately” protect health staff working in hospitals.

He also emphasised the need to enact law articles that protect doctors and guarantee the patients’ right to litigate.

In former years, Radio Dabanga more than once reported about medical staff being assaulted by relatives of patients, including policemen, army officers, or militiamen of the RSF. More recently, medics in Khartoum complain about being harassed at check points in the city, though they are exempted from the lockdown imposed to ward off the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

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