Ministry for Health Urged to Call the Spade a Spade

Ministry for Health Urged to Call the Spade a Spade

Federal Minister of Health Abugarda

By: Al-Zain Osman

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - For weeks now viral stomach troubles have been wreaking havoc in several parts of the country, with multiple outcries here and there upon the government to openly tell what this disease is.

For its part the Federal Ministry for Health used to call the disease: ishalat ma’eyya’ (that can translate into the clumsy ‘watery diarrhea’.)

The Ministry and its regional offshoots continued to say that they were working hard to stop the disease and that the situation was under the control.

The White Nile State Government, where the disease was first reported this time, says emergency status was getting less with reported infections on the decline.

But civil society groups were adamant that the disease was more than watery diarrhea. Now politicians have taken the note, urging the authorities to say more.

General Secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Ali al-Haj, a medical doctor by profession, has put on his lab coat urging his partners in the Government of National Accord to be more open on the matter.

“As a medical doctor I can say that the terminology the health authorities use to characterize the matter is political rather than medical,’’ said al-Haj, a gynecology consultant.

Dr. al-Haj said his party has handed the National Prime Minister a memo urging the government to call the disease “by its name,” and challenge it accordingly.
By his formula as a medical doctor –politician, Dr. Al-Haj rekindles the argumentation about the disease and whether it is cholera in accordance with the medical symptoms or “watery diarrhea” as say the records of the Ministry for Health.

In the meantime the vicinity of the Ministry for Health and its adjacent World Health Organization premises draw another scene where a number of youths (from both sexes) stand flashing placards urging the Ministry for Health “to concede that the disease is cholera,” Another placard reads:  “quarantine the disease”.  Sunday’s demonstration was
a continuation of a previous demo in which a group of youths urged the White Nile State to be declared “a district infested with cholera”.

But Khartoum State Health Minister, Dr. Mamoon Hummaida argued that the situation was under control and that the “watery diarrhea” had not reached the scale of pandemic yet and would not force the postponement of the new school year.

Dr. Hummaida said infections in Khartoum had reached 870 cases by Sunday, with 15 fatalities.

Earlier Hummaida announced that his cadres had cultured 600 samples of the “watery diarrhea” without finding any indications of a pandemic.”

These results reaffirm that the disease is not cholera,” he had concluded in a report to the Khartoum State Council of Ministers.

In a series of statements the Sudan Doctors Committee keeps saying that the disease ‘that hits the country’ is cholera and that the authorities should avoid ‘burying their heads in the sands’ and declare the true nature of the disease, as an initial step for countering it.

According to the Sudan Doctors Spokesman Husam al-Amin “what happens before us in the hospitals impending danger is surrounding the Sudanese due to the escalating infections.” “This disease is not watery diarrhea. This is a political name used to
evade repercussions of the declaration of the disease,” he said.

For his part the Federal Minister of Health Bahar Idris Abugarda had insisted in a report to the National Assembly (parliament) that the disease was” no more than watery diarrhea.”

He said 5244 persons were hospitalized with the disease in the White Nile State, with 76 fatalities.
The Minister revealed last Sunday that 195 new cases had been reported in a number of states including Khartoum with 40 cases.
He had said the disease cases are declining reaffirming his Ministry’s ability to stem the disease.
 He, however, stated that his government (in the long run) needs external help for fear of a new outbreak.

What is clear now is that there is a disease that picks its victims indiscriminately;  whatever different parties call it, and it needs action, particularly enlightenment and awareness raising which cure the disease in the bud before it blossoms into something nasty.



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