This page reports back on the Health workshop at the Sudan Solidarity Emergency Conference. We have collected contributions from the conference itself with messages sent to the organisers and resources for trade unionists and activists who want to build solidarity. If you’d like to get involved in building networks of solidarity between healthworkers in Sudan and Britain please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair: Tony Philips (Unison)
- Dr Mohamed Sigeir (Central Committee of Sudanese Pharmacists)
- Mohamed elBadawi (Central Committee of Sudanese Pharmacists)
Dr Mohamed Sigeir on the health situation in Sudan
Before 2019 the National Congress Party was in control and as a result:
- The health sector suffered from corruption, nepotism, lack of transparency and confusion
- The Transitional Government faced big challenges to provide support and to avoid further corruption
- The Covid pandemic increased challenges including the overcrowding of hospitals
- The economic crisis contributed to the deterioration of the health situation.
Mohamed elBadawi (Central Committee of Sudanese Pharmacists)
- Since coup there have been massive shortages of essential medical supplies, this started before the overthrow of previous regime
- There is a huge problem in reforming pharmaceutical sector
- Pharmacists are doing their best to supply medicines to protestors, but it is extremely difficult
Dr Mohamed Sigeir
Despite these troubles, there have been efforts by pharmacists themselves to reform the pharmaceutical situation without the help of the state such as:
- Collaboration of Sudanese pharmacists are working together to develop sustainable health policies
- Discussions on reforming Pharmacists’ Union in Sudan, to improve the work environment (a preliminary committee election has begun work on this)
- In Khartoum there is work ongoing to reform community pharmacies
Dr Alaa-al-Din Nogoud (Sudanese Consultants and Specialists Committee)
- Things outside of Khartoum may be even worse and less often reported on
- In a village outside of Darfur there were 24 people killed on 5 December – it may be that people are not aware.
- A Nogoud travelled to Darfur 6 months ago with medicine, did surgeries there but since the coup there is no coordination between military and civilians and it is more difficult to access outside of Khartoum and to transport medicine.
- How can we help people in smaller towns and in the countryside?
Comments from the discussion
- The coup has brought constant violence to women but there is no way women will go to a clinic and talk about rape. Furthermore there is no documentation of sexual crimes and no current way to document them. How can we can support Sudanese women in sexual health? Is there a way to bring assistance on the ground? How can we develop methods of documentation so that when we move to a democracy we can have a record of evidence of crimes?
- How can we support health care workers’ rights and improve their working conditions and pay?
- Providing any kind of help with lifesaving medicines is key
- It would also be good for this group to meet again and make a link between professional medical bodies in UK and those in Sudan to exchange ideas
- To learn from UK medical unions in their experience in building civil society in UK
Proposals for further action:
Mohamed elBadawi (Central Committee of Sudanese pharmacists)
- In the short-term help to provide essential medical supplies to Sudan. The Central Committee of Sudanese pharmacists can provide a list of what is needed immediately.
- A long-term strategy would be the continued support to reform unions in Sudan. For instance, the health or pharmaceutical union in the UK could provide support and knowledge such as:
- Supporting the Sudanese unions with guidance as to union structures
- helping with pharmaceutical education in Sudan
- supporting health care workers in Sudan to establish healthcare policies
Karen Reissmann (Unison National Executive member (pc)
- Karen extends solidarity to all health workers in Sudan
- She has witnessed how health workers played a central role in fighting for justice and democracy. She says UNISON has put out statements to condemn the military coup and sent messages of solidarity.
- She makes the suggestion of inviting Sudanese health workers to UNISON union meetings
Resources and background materials
A video message to the conference from Dr Mohamed Nagi al-Asam, Central Committee of the Sudanese Doctors (CCSD)
Thanks for organising this event in support of the Sudanese people as they struggle for freedom, peace and justice, these three main pillars of the Sudanese revolution. I am Mohamed Nagi al-Asam, a member of the Central Committee of the Sudanese Doctors (CCSD). The doctors have played a huge role in leading in supporting the Sudanese Revolution through the CCSD and also through other bodies who worked together and organised common activities through the United Office of the Sudanese Doctors.
The CCSD was crucial also in the Sudanese Professional Association which is a coalition of professional organisations that helped lead the Sudanese revolution and that continues to have a major role in helping, supporting and leading the Sudanese revolution. The CCSD organised strikes, peaceful protests, and different nonviolent activities to support the cause of the Sudanese people.
We have lost our fellow doctors, we have lost Dr Ali Fadl in the early days of the Bashir regime. He was one of the people who resisted the coup and he gave his life to resisting the 1989 coup, led by Omar el-Bashir. Also in this revolution we have lost Dr Babiker Abdulhamid who gave his life defending his fellow brothers and sisters. He was shot dead by the security forces. And also we have lost a medical student, Mahjoub al-Taj, who was beaten to death in front of his university in Khartoum.
The Sudanese doctors as well as all the sectors of the Sudanese people continue to give their most in support of the Sudanese revolution . The CCSD has been focused on documenting the atrocities committed by the security forces. We have teams in the hospitals in different states around Sudan, and we collect data about the number of people injured and the number of deaths and we report that directly to the news and the human rights organisations. We think this helps a lot in stopping the machine of killing that wants to stop the people of Sudan from reaching democracy.
We help in emergency situations. We have active teams in the streets who will provide first aid services to our brothers and sisters, the protesters. We are also stabilising the injured and helping them to have proper treatment and reducing the number of casualties.
We continue to play our role as part of the coalitions of the grass roots of different professional associations and different trade unions to help unify the Sudanese people around their common goals.
We organised the longest strike in history in the early days of the revolution which started in 2018. We are now entering the fourth year of the Sudanese revolution. Now we are resisting this military coup which basically ended the transition and stopped the process of the political transition leading to democracy, and which also has taken away the constitutional declaration which was laid out by an agreement between the civilian component and the military component. They have taken over power and all the Sudanese people are resisting this military coup and they will continue their path and their journey and their resistance with the greatest resilience ever.
In Sudan and even in the region it’s elemental that the Sudanese people eventually will reach their goals with this amount of resilience, that they have and courage and determination. We appreciate your support, thank you very much. We ask you to continue your support, continue spreading the message of the Sudanese people who have been under siege. During the days of the coup we were cut off from the internet, phone calls were not available, arrests were made. And since the coup of 25th of October we have now lost around 43 people who were killed by the security forces so we definitely need your help, we appreciate it and we hope you continue spreading the message.
What you can do next:
- If you are interested in building a working group for healthworkers to exchange experiences of organising to defend health services and build trade unions in Sudan and Britain contact us via email@example.com
- Can you invite a Sudanese speaker to your union branch? Let us know via the email above.
- If you are a Sudanese healthworker please tell us if you’re willing to speak at a union meeting in Britain – email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Share this report and background resources with your colleagues