THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says an estimated 219,000 women are currently pregnant in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, and are not receiving essential health services, a situation that could prove life threatening for them.
UNFPA, a UN agency that works to improve reproductive and maternal health worldwide, disclosed this in a publication on Sunday, May 7.
The agency said it is stepping up support, with midwives playing a key role, in helping to provide safe deliveries for the 219,000 pregnant women as 24,000 are expected to give birth in the coming weeks amid growing violence in the country.
“Access to midwives is the single most important factor in stopping preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
“Some 24,000 women are expected to give birth in the coming weeks, in the throes of chaos and bloodshed, making it extremely hazardous for them to seek essential antenatal care, safe delivery services, or postnatal support.”
The UN agency for reproductive health said it condemned the attack on a hospital in Khartoum. “Health facilities and hospitals should be safe havens in times of crisis.”
UNFPA regional director Laila Baker maintained that pregnant women in the capital city are facing perilous conditions.
“We are acutely concerned,” she said. “There is no way we can monitor them, there is no access to safe delivery services, no way to ensure even meagre communication.”
She added that women can go into premature delivery, and complications can arise from panic that “the circumstances are so tenuous”.
The crisis in Sudan had trapped citizens of many countries including Nigerians since over two weeks of brutal fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) turned Khartoum, the epicentre of the violence, into a warzone and thrown the country into turmoil.
They had followed the incident with reports, the latest being that the Federal Government has successfully evacuated Nigerians who indicated interest to leave Sudan.
According to the UN report, more than 500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes, either within the country or across borders to neighbouring Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
Many of those fleeing have already been displaced multiple times due to political instability, hunger and climate crises, with untold numbers taking refuge in unsafe, crowded and unsanitary makeshift camps.
The health sector is collapsing as only one in four hospitals in Khartoum are fully operational, with most damaged and only partially functioning, leaving millions of people without access to critical care, UNFPA said.
Dozens of attacks on hospitals, healthcare staff and ambulances, alongside widespread looting of already scarce medical supplies, water, fuel and electricity, are pushing the health sector to the brink of collapse.