Sudanese kidney patients in ‘scary’ situation

A kidney dialysis centre in the Sudanese capital (social media)

KHARTOUM – May 9, 2023


Kidney patients in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan are unable to undergo dialysis regularly as most centres were forced to close since clashes erupted between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (SAF) in mid-April. “The situation is scary, and we may lose 12,000 human beings soon,” the director of the National Centre for Kidney Diseases warned already two weeks ago.

Kidney patient Nour El Dayim told Radio Dabanga from the capital that he has not been able to undergo dialysis for the past 10 days even though his health condition requires him to undergo two four-hour dialysis sessions per week.

The National Centre for Kidney Diseases and Surgery in Khartoum announced its urgent need for dialyses materials last week.

The membrane filters needed for the dialyses are about to run out, in particular after the RSF took control of the Central Medical Supplies Pharmacy.

According to the centre and the Sudan Doctors’ Trade Union (SDTU), roughly 12 thousand patients are currently exposed to the risk of death from renal failure complications as most centres have run out of supplies. These centres usually handled 140,000 dialysis sessions per month.

‘The situation at renal dialysis centres is seriously dangerous’

“The situation at renal dialysis centres is seriously dangerous,” the union wrote at the end of last month.

Last week, there were only two dialysis centres still operating in Khartoum, in the Turkish Hospital and El Bashayer Hospital, and three centres in Omdurman and two in Khartoum North (Bahri).

The National Centre for Kidney Diseases and Surgery further reported that the time for the dialysis sessions has been reduced from four hours to two hours, because of the shortages and the many patients crowding in front of the centres that are still open.

There are also patients not being able to reach the centres because of the high price of fuel. A gallon of petrol now costs SDG30,000.

A woman posted on social media that “the biggest danger we face, more than bullets, is my kidney disease. Every day, the situation is getting worse for me regarding dialysis. Literally all dialysis centres are out of service, closing down one by one”.

“If you have not been shot, you will die of a chronic disease,” Aseen Geries told Al Jazeera from Wad Madani. She said that over 21,000 people are in need of dialysis.

Kidney patients are travelling all the way to Kosti in White Nile state or fleeing to Wad Madani in El Gezira to receive treatment, but health centres there are running out of supplies as well.

Dialysis patients travelled to Kosti in White Nile state for treatment (SUNA)

Appeal

The National Centre for Kidney Diseases and Surgery called on both sides of the conflict to provide safe humanitarian passages for patients and medical personnel and appealed to the international community to urgently provide dialysis materials to save the lives of kidney patients in Sudan.

On April 27, Centre Director Dr Nizar Zalafo already issued an urgent appeal for help “to the whole world” via social media.

“We need doses of Prograf 1mg and 140,000 dialyses filters as soon as possible. The situation is scary, and we may lose 12,000 human beings soon,” he stated.

Prograf (tacrolimus) is an immunosuppressive drug to help prevent organ rejection for patients with kidney transplants.

“Share this call, good people, so that God may save people’s lives. The situation is more difficult than anything you can imagine.”

‘The situation is more difficult than anything you can imagine’

Four days earlier, the El Naw Hospital in Omdurman announced on social media that its dialysis centre had stopped working.

“The last three staff members have been working for three consecutive days, but tonight we lost them.”

The problem of hiring staff for dialysis was already a problem before the war. Therefore, the hospital called for “anyone” to come and help out with the dialysis. Accommodation and transport would be provided.

Services and donations

The federal Ministry of Health reported in a statement on Friday that there are about 4,500 people who had kidney transplants and are receiving treatment through their centres in the states. 

“These services of dialysis or medicines are provided free of charge by the Government of Sudan to patients in coordination with the National Kidney Centre.”

The Ministry, the National Kidney Centre, and the National Fund for Medical Supplies are coordinating to address the deficiencies, the statement said.

The statement spoke about the arrival of a ship to Port Sudan with 130,000 dialysis machines from Baxter Company, ordered by the National Fund for Medical Supplies.

The Jordanian Hikma Company also donated enough Prograf for a month. It was shipped to Jeddah for free.

Battles between the army and the RSF continue unabated in Sudan