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Thursday, August 17, 2023

At EMERGENCY’s Salam Centre complex in Khartoum, already home to a cardiac surgery hospital, the NGO has opened an emergency and trauma surgery hospital to treat people in a context where few other medical facilities are available because of the war that began in Sudan on 15 April 2023. 

EMERGENCY, which has been active in Sudan since 2003, remained in the country even after the outbreak of war by continuing its activities at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum and its Paediatric Centres in Port Sudan (Red Sea State) and Nyala (South Darfur). It recently opened the new facility, which admits patients in need of emergency or trauma surgery (both war-wounded and trauma from civilian causes). 

“We know Sudan well, having worked here for 20 years. When the country became the scene of a new conflict in April, we decided to stay, although we had to reshape our activities, so as not to abandon our patients,” comments Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY. “As the war has continued, needs have increased, and that is why we decided to expand our activities: in addition to supporting various hospitals with medical supplies, we have refitted a part of our existing cardiac hospital where we used to host patients from other African countries, to create an emergency surgery centre. Here we treat war-wounded, civilian trauma cases and surgical emergencies.” 

Within the Guest House, which usually houses 40 patients from the Regional Programme for Cardiac Surgery, are now two operating theatres, an observation ward, an emergency room (up to 7 beds), a sub-intensive care unit (8 beds), dedicated locker rooms, storage rooms for sterile and clean material, and a decontamination space for material that needs to be sterilised. A 30-bed ward has been created in another building.  

“So far we have received 77 patients, of whom 44 had war wounds and 2 were dead on arrival,” says Gina Portella, Medical Coordinator at the Salam Centre. “27 have been admitted, and the rest have been managed in the outpatient clinic.” 

Among the most frequent issues are war wounds, but also trauma related to traffic accidents and urgent surgical cases: patients who, because large parts of the Sudanese national health system have almost completely collapsed, cannot access treatment and are in life-threatening situations. 

“We are in a war zone, an active war, although the fighting is some distance from the hospital,” Portella continues. “People are struggling to get around. So patients arrive in serious, if not extreme, conditions, and that’s what we’ve been seeing since the beginning of the conflict, even in the cardiac hospital.” 

Around 50 Sudanese and international staff members work at the new Centre for Emergency and Trauma Surgery, including surgeons and doctors specialising in emergency surgery and orthopaedics, anaesthesiologists and nurses, and non-clinical staff. 

In parallel, health teams will be operating in five clinics outside the capital (in the government hospitals at Atbara, Gedaref, Kosti, Shendi, and Wad Madani) to provide pre-operative visits to patients who need surgery, and follow-up visits and administration of anticoagulation therapy to patients already operated on at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, ensuring continuity of care for those who cannot reach Khartoum. The first clinic, opened in Wad Madani (Gezira State), receives an average of 20 patients per day.