September 20, 2008

Sudan: Red Cross Trains Doctors in War Surgery Seminar

Text of report in English by Paris-based Sudanese newspaper Sudan Tribune website on 17 September

[Report by Daniel Van Oudenaren: "Surgeons Train for Trauma Cases in Juba Hospital"]

Twenty-six surgeons and doctors from southern Sudan are attending a war surgery seminar that started in Juba on Sept. 17, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced from Khartoum.

The three-day seminar is lead by Dr Gunter Wimhofer, an ICRC surgeon who has practiced in Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya. "War surgery is very specific. It is not something you can easily learn in textbooks. We are sharing our expertise with surgeons in Sudan to increase their ability to treat patients wounded by weapons," says Dr Wimhofer.

The participants travelled from civilian and military hospitals in various towns of southern Sudan, including Juba, Malakal and Bentiu. They will hone their skills in triage and pre-hospital care, basic management of gunshot wounds, amputations, treatment of head injuries and physical rehabilitation.

Juba Teaching Hospital opened in March after a two year renovation. The project was contracted by the Government of South Sudan for $10 million (USD), according to Shao Fumin, a civil engineer with China National Overseas Engineering Corporation.

"We have many trauma cases in southern Sudan," says the hospital's medical director, Dr Maker Isaac Wel. "Most surgeons are not specialized in this field. We hope that as a result of this workshop, we will be able to provide better care for trauma patients."

Low-intensity violence continues in some areas of southern Sudan, and the threat of renewed civil conflict was highlighted this May during clashes in Abyei. Twice this year, the ICRC deployed its Darfur-based mobile field surgical team to southern Sudan, where the team operated on thirty patients suffering from wounds inflicted by weapons.

The ICRC began operating in southern Sudan in 1984. One of its key medical tasks during the conflict between Sudanese government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army consisted in evacuating wounded fighters and civilians to the ICRC field hospital at Lokichokio, in neighbouring Kenya.

After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, the ICRC gradually adapted its health activities to new needs, which include supporting people left disabled after the long civil war. This year ICRC donated wheelchairs and crutches to Juba military hospital and provided Juba Teaching Hospital with a medical kit containing supplies to treat up to 50 patients with bullet wounds.

Another war surgery seminar is scheduled to take place next week in El Geneina, West Darfur.

Originally published by Sudan Tribune website, Paris in English 17 Sep 08.

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