The United Nations warns of a looming health crisis in Sudan following historic floods which have created conditions for deadly insect-transmitted diseases to thrive.
Some 875,000 people across the country are affected by torrential rains and floods, which have caused widespread damage to homes, crops and livelihoods.
The floods have left behind stagnant water pools which are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns that more than 4.5 million people are at risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases such as malaria, chikungunya and viral hemorrhagic fevers, or VHF.
Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health has already reported increasing numbers of suspected VHF cases, which include dengue, yellow fever and Rift Valley fever. The agency reports 2,226 cases, most in Northern state, including 56 deaths.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian affairs office, says there also is an outbreak of chikungunya in West Darfur, where nearly 250 people have been diagnosed with this viral disease.
“The worst disease and the most lethal disease is in fact malaria. There [are] over 1.1 million malaria cases as of the end of September this year across the country, and malaria has reached epidemic levels in 15 out of the 18 states in Sudan,” he said.
Laerke said U.N. aid agencies have procured hundreds of emergency health kits to support malaria treatment and other health needs. He said the kits can serve up to 2.7 million people for three months. However, he told VOA aid workers are having difficulty getting the supplies out into the field.
“One of the things that the partners on the ground are actually mentioning trying to get these emergency health kits out in the communities and particularly among the many internally displaced—there are almost two million internally displaced people in Sudan--is that the floods and stagnant water is still hampering access to those people,” he said.
Laerke said there is a shortage of medical supplies and needs will increase as insect-driven diseases continue to spread throughout the country. He said the U.N.’s operation is in financial difficulty as it only has received 19% of needed funding.
He said aid agencies urgently need to raise an estimated $25 million to procure essential medicines and to support measures for vaccine-preventable vector and water-borne diseases.