These photos come from Khartoum as we welcomed the Uganda Heart Institute’s Training Board Committee to our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan.
Let’s take you to Sudan, to share one of our (rare) breaks with doctor Faisal and nurse Hawa at our Paediatric Centre in Port Sudan.
We’ll only be a few minutes, just enough time for a sip with them of hot coffee, or jebena as it’s called here, named after the ceramic cup which it is made and kept hot in.
On every visit, one topic has cropped up more than any other for months, just as it has everywhere else in the world: the effects of Covid-19 on our lives.
We share stories of our struggles with the new daily reality that is turning the way we live and work on its head. We do it to feel less alone, perhaps, to try and understand what the future will bring.
“I feel calm and safe here at the hospital,’ says Hawa. ‘We’re always very careful and do everything we can to protect ourselves and our patients. It’s our responsibility to make sure the Centre carries on being a safe place for everyone.”
Prevention protocols, personal protective equipment, isolation curtains for shared rooms, constant disinfection of rooms, and sufficient stocks of medicine mean we can go on treating our patients.
“Hawa, are you going to the next training session?”
“Of course! At a time like this, the training sessions always remind me how connected training and treatment are. We need to do more and more and give our all, now more than ever.”
“What with all the practice we’re doing, you can’t forget all the steps of how to dress and undress. Jasna pushes us to go through them every day when practising and every month in theory training, so we can always carry out our clinical work, even during Covid-19.”
At our Paediatric Centre in Port Sudan, which is the only hospital in one of the city’s poorest districts, we give free, high-quality treatment to children under 14 from the surrounding area. They live in extremely difficult conditions, due in part to poor infrastructure and services. Overcrowded homes increase the risk of infection. And Covid-19 is not the only spectre looming over our patients’ lives. The current pandemic is hitting a population that was already affected by cholera years ago, in a place of endemic diseases like malaria, and where malnutrition threatens children’s lives.
Our doctors, nurses, logisticians and administrators are giving their all to save people’s lives, to go on being a source of hope and reliance. But here, as the situation worsens, the right to healthcare sometimes seems like a utopian concept.
“But still, all you can do is be optimistic, don’t you think? We owe it to ourselves and above all to everyone we’re treating. The right to treatment has to overcome every barrier.”
“And we’ll defend it, Hawa.”
Thanks to the Sudan Humanitarian Fund’s (SHF) support for our work at the Paediatric Centre in Port Sudan, we managed to put in place all the measures needed to contain the risk of Covid-19 infection, so we could go on providing a medical response based on our defining principles of free, high-quality treatment.
Applying the necessary prevention and protection measures in the hospital was aided by EMERGENCY’s experience handling the local cholera epidemic in 2017 and its work fighting Covid-19 in northern Italy.
Medical workers and health promoters follow specific guidelines and procedures to protect the health of staff and patients whilst treating and supporting children in need at the Centre every day.