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Hepatitis outbreak kills 150 in South Darfur’s Kalma IDP camp

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September 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – An outbreak of hepatitis at Kalma camp for Internally Displaced People in South Darfur state has led to the death of 150 people and infected 500 others.

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A group of women build a shelter in Kalma camp for internally displaced people in South Darfur on 9 March 2014 (Photo: UNAMID/Albert Gonzalez Farran)

Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, is commonly caused by viral infection. According to the WHO, hepatitis E is included amongst the most concerning iterations of the disease (types A, B, C, D and E) because its epidemic potential.

The humanitarian affairs officer for the IDP’s, Essa Salih, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that 150 people mostly children, pregnant women and elderly died while 500 others have been infected with hepatitis due to rapid spread of the disease during the past two months.

He added that the proliferation of the disease was caused by malnutrition and lack of adequate health services inside the camp, pointing that most of the infected people died at Nyala Teaching Hospital.

Saleh noted the disease became the biggest threat to IDP’s in South Darfur state following expulsion of foreign aid groups in 2009.

Immediately after the first arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan’s president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in March 2009, Sudan expelled 13 aid groups from Darfur accusing it of collaborating with the war crime courts.

Saleh called for the urgent intervention of the health ministry and aid groups to contain the disease in Kalma camp, warning against its spread to other IDP’s camps.

He also pointed to the growing malnutrition diseases among children and elderly in the camps.

The health minister in South Darfur state, Omer Suleiman, for his part confirmed existence of hepatitis E cases saying he hasn’t yet received precise numbers, stressing ongoing efforts to remedy the situation.

Before the expulsion decision, Kalma camp used to receive health services from 9 aid groups but now only 3 aid groups are serving the camp.

Nyala Teaching Hospital suffers from a severe shortage of doctors particularly specialists following resignations of significant numbers of them due to government’s failure to pay their salary arrears for years.

(ST)

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