Khartoum - In Sudan healthcare is costly and in every state hospital in Khartoum the capital of Sudan, everything has a price: first aid, medicines, drips, syringes bandages; medical tests, admittance – and once in hospital patients have no right to the necessary medicines, or food or even water. This situation affects women of various cultures and social situations temporarily settled in villages in the outskirts of Khartoum and Omdurman, often to escape unbearable conditions in their countries of origin mainly Chad, South Sudan and Darfur.
An estimated figure of 2 million internally displaced persons are here while there are another 706,000 in neighbouring countries. Here the rate of mother and child mortality is the highest in the world. Most women have no work and those who do work are poorly paid. In many communities there is still the traditional system of birth at home, diffidence towards medicines and treatment at medical centres. Health clinics are often distant and difficult to reach on bad roads and with transport at impossible prices.
In this emergency Comboni sisters at St. Mary Maternity, opened in Khartoum in 1954, provide specific assistance for pregnant mothers. “Irrespective of their religious beliefs pregnant women come in great numbers to St Mary’s for medical tests and examinations in preparation for childbirth”, Fides was told by sister Elizabeth Robles Ibarra in charge of the programme.
“Our prenatal ward–Sr Elizabeth continues, accepts needy women from the fourth month of pregnancy onwards. They come for a first examination tests and scan before the time of delivery. Very often we have cases at risk and we intervene. The hospital manages to cover expenses thanks to donations . Many newborns remain in observation. Expenses, which can often weigh on the family and are reduced to a minimum and medical care is often given free of charge for the most needy”.
“At our Centre we help mothers during pregnancy and during the post-delivery period; we help poor families with delivery expenses and during the first few months of life”, concludes the Comboni sister. Presently the sisters are caring for 100 pregnant mothers and infants. >>