Nina struggles to keep her son alive during the crisis
In Darfur, UNICEF and partners are sustaining lifesaving services for newborns and mothers in danger
19-year-old Nina delivered her son Mohammed 30 days ago at Yasin Primary Health Centre located in El Daien, the capital of East Darfur state.
Her excitement and joy of motherhood was sadly cut short when suddenly Mohammed fell ill.
“My baby Mohamed was healthy in the first 20 days of his life. Then, he gradually lost his appetite for breast milk and developed a yellowish eye colour,” she narrates.
This condition prompted a quick and immediate visit to the nearest health facility - Yasin Primary Health Centre - the same facility where Mohammed was born.
This time Nina was turned away from the health facility – to her dismay.
Despite the urgency to keep her son alive and to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible, challenges including the lack of transportation, long distances and insecurity remained.
By this time, the conflict in Sudan had erupted in Khartoum and quickly spiraling to the Darfurs.
“The journey to El Daien hospital from my home was too long and difficult,” Nina recalls.
On arrival, Mohammed was examined and diagnosed with severe jaundice and admitted to the neonatal ward for treatment in the hospital. Nina was relieved that the health workers identified the problem and that her son was under the good care of medical personnel.
El Daien Hospital is a referral hospital serving communities across the entire state, including children with severe medical complications and mothers with acute and chronic maternal health problems.
The crisis is impacting healthcare services across Sudan
Like many health facilities in Khartoum, those in East Darfur have also been affected by the ongoing conflict, greatly impacting health service delivery.
Before UNICEF’s intervention, El Daien hospital was operating at sub-optimal capacity due to the current crisis. Shortage of supplies and medication were common as well as interruptions in the power supply coupled with insufficient fuel to support backup generators. This affected delivery and continuity of critical newborn and maternal services in the pediatric and maternity wards. Sadly, many children didn’t make it.
“I was thinking of leaving the hospital and getting back to my home but on the third day, the electricity was restored after the generator of the hospital started operating.”
UNICEF is providing fuel to the hospital to run the generator so critical healthcare services can continue and lives are saved.
“The fuel support is saving the lives and sustaining essential service delivery in neonatal and maternity wards for newborns and sick and stressed children arriving from remote localities, like Mohammed,” confirms Mohammed Guma Alhassab, the matron at the hospital.
Mohammed now on the road to recovery
Nina has since remained at the hospital as her son recuperates.
“Mohammed's appetite is slowly returning, and the health worker also told me that he will fully recover soon.” says Nina.
At this hospital and many other health facilities across Darfur, UNICEF and partners are supporting continuity of lifesaving healthcare services for children and women, including in the remotest locations.
The support will benefit thousands of children in need of urgent healthcare during the current crisis.
As Mohammed Guma Alhassab continues to support children out of danger, he highlights the need for additional support including essential medicines and constant oxygen supply.
UNICEF emergency health response in Darfur
Since the onset of the conflict in mid-April, the UNICEF emergency health response in Darfur has reached 4,382 children with malnutrition screening, 1,977 children aged 0-11 months with measles vaccinations, and over 3,218 children aged 6-59 months with treatment against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Additionally, 5,325 children and women accessed primary health care services and 1,368 primary caregivers received infant and young child feeding counselling through health facility and community-based platforms.