The scarcity of medicines compounds the suffering of patients.. Sudanese are searching for medicines on social media and on the black market

Khartoum- For five days, lawyer Khaled Mohamed Salem has been searching for blood pressure and diabetes medications for his elderly mother, and he has not been able to find them in light of the disruption of pharmacies in Khartoum due to the continued confrontations between the army and the Rapid Support Forces since mid-April.

The fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and its environs increased the suffering of patients and their families due to the scarcity of medicines, as companies stopped distributing them, destroyed their local factories, closed most pharmacies, and looted others.

Salem tells Al-Jazeera Net that obtaining chronic disease medications has become a “very tiring” task, due to the pharmacies’ failure to work, which prompted him, along with a group of his neighbors in the neighborhood, to communicate with a number of pharmacists who put forward an initiative to obtain medicines through social media.

A number of pharmacists published on these platforms a list of the types of medicines available to them, along with their phone numbers to communicate with them, and they used volunteers with motorcycles to deliver medicines to patients in their locations, despite the risks to their lives.

Salem says that this initiative has greatly alleviated the suffering of patients with chronic diseases, especially since the owners of the initiative sell medicines at their real prices. He criticized some “greedy people” who took advantage of the crisis and doubled prices under harsh economic and living conditions.

A member of the Medicine Delivery Initiative, Osama Abdel Rahman, says that their phones do not stop receiving calls from patients looking for medicines throughout the day, and he complained about the scarcity of some items that are only available in the medical supplies box, which are classified as life-saving medicines, as well as intravenous solutions, cancer diseases, and others.

He pointed to the community’s spirit of solidarity, as some citizens took the initiative to donate the medicines they have available to those who need them, and publish information about them on social media. However, he talked about receiving calls from patients who do not have the cost of the medicine because the banks stopped working, the lack of cash liquidity, or the medicine prices have become beyond their ability.

A drug store in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, which was destroyed and burned due to the ongoing clashes (French)

on the black market

In recent days, drug manufacturers and pharmacists issued a warning of catastrophic conditions, as a result of the majority of factories stopping and being destroyed, and some items of medicine being damaged in their warehouses due to power outages for weeks and looting of several stores, which led to a scarcity of life-saving medicines, and an insane rise in the prices of the available ones for entry. Black market”.

The matter was further complicated by the RSF’s control of the government medical supplies fund in the south of Khartoum, and it contains huge warehouses that provide life-saving medicines to hospitals and pharmacies in the capital, and it has arms in 18 states; And his pharmacies stopped working.

The Pharmacists Union described the health situation in Khartoum as the worst compared to the rest of the states, stressing that there are some stocks of medicines, but most pharmacies and stores were forced to close due to the fighting.

The solution is possible

The former head of the Sudanese Pharmacists Union, Salah Swar Al-Dahab, explains that the country had a good stock of medicines before the military confrontations, but most of the drug stores and factories are located in Khartoum, whose areas witnessed clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, and were subjected to looting, and even the medicines that survived the burning remained imprisoned. It cannot be transferred under the current conditions.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Siwar Al-Dahab says that medicines need special storage and refrigeration, which is not available in light of the war conditions, which causes a scarcity of important items such as serums and insulin used by diabetics.

He adds that the medicines in the medical supplies fund that he provides to hospitals, and even those that were in pharmacies, were affected by the power outage, which requires their import quickly to cover the deficit, pointing out that there are stores in some states that can supply the most affected capital for a limited period.

He revealed that the Medical Supplies Fund and some companies tried to distribute medicines to the states, but the Rapid Support Forces seized them, and warned that local factories would not resume work soon due to the sabotage and destruction they had suffered. In addition, pharmaceutical companies are unable to transfer their medicines from their warehouses, which threatens an acute shortage of medicine if it is not imported with speedy arrangements.

Siwar al-Dahab says that the supplies and consumables that are used in operations were greatly affected because they were used in large quantities during the period of military clashes that led to the injury of thousands of civilians, and that importing them takes between 3 and 4 months. He called for simplifying procedures through the port of Port Sudan, because the scarcity of these supplies leads to great risks to the lives of patients and the injured, and suggested safe passages for transporting medicines from ports and airports to the capital and the states.

The gold bracelet points to complications that could hinder the procedures for importing medicines from abroad, including banks stopping work, and the continuation of the war will affect economic conditions and the availability of free currencies, which slows down import procedures.

An abandoned hospital in El Geneina area due to the continuing bloody fighting (French)

“reassuring” stock

In contrast to the warnings of the medicine sector and pharmacists, officials in the Sudanese Ministry of Health say that the stock of medicines so far is reassuring, although out of 3,400 pharmacies in the capital, Khartoum, less than 10% operate, and many cannot access them due to the security situation.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, government officials held the Rapid Support Forces responsible for the shortage of medicines by looting some pharmacies, which reduced the number of workers in them, as well as disrupting the work of the Medical Supplies Fund that provides life-saving medicines, and withholding medicines that were on their way to the states.

The Ministry of Health identified the scarce items for the purpose of providing them from countries and organizations that declared their willingness to provide humanitarian aid. Some of the shipments have arrived by air at Port Sudan airport, and will be transferred to Khartoum as soon as possible, according to government officials.

In turn, Sudanese organizations estimated that 5,000 kidney patients left Khartoum for neighboring states where dialysis centers are available, due to the difficulty of their work in the three cities of the capital.

Families of kidney patients had launched an appeal warning that their lives would be at risk of death, due to the suspension of the work of most dialysis centers in Khartoum, and they talked about the dangers of reaching workers from them.

The Ministry of Health responded that a ship arrived at Port Sudan carrying 130,000 “dialysis” for kidney patients, enough for two months. A Jordanian company also donated an amount sufficient for a month, in addition to an initiative from Sudanese doctors in the Diaspora countries.

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