The ABCs of Sustainable Development Goals and Sudan’s situation IV


By Dr. Hassan Humeida

Goal Three: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Kiel, Germany: The third goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure for every human being, at all ages, to enjoy good health and a better life.

This is at a time when obesity and morbid obesity are spreading, which paves the way for chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and strokes. Such diseases represent an estimated 74% of the primary causes of deaths among non-communicable diseases.

With regard to public health, it is considered one of the successes of medicine to develop a serum to reduce Coronavirus infections in record time. As of the middle of this year, the infection rate has exceeded 800 million cases across the world.

Through the third goal of the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s nations hope to enable people to receive treatment at affordable costs and to provide treatment for those suffering from chronic diseases at a low and subsidized price that supports the health system of developing and poor countries.

Other aims are to exchange experiences with countries with the optimal health and preventive field through training and expansion in different specializations and to develop the health of families and individuals through family planning and enhancing sexual health.

The third goal also seeks to strengthen the rights of women and girls by giving them the choice in matters of marriage and childbearing, providing possible means of contraception, combating the spread of child marriage and reducing early marriage, thereby reducing the rate of women’s death during pregnancy and childbirth.

Another goal is to enable the graduation of a larger number of trained midwives, and to provide vaccination serums for children and infants after birth.

This goal also seeks to promote mental health, reduce tobacco smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol, and combat drug abuse, especially the types that are prepared chemically in laboratories.

It also accords special attention to the environmental aspect to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution and the resulting consequences that are harmful to human health.

Another aim is to combat transmitted diseases, especially malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS, and protect against the risk of non-transmitted diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers. This goal here is based on the benefit of early warning to reduce the occurrence of the disease and its spread through follow-up, diagnosis, and treatment.

This is especially true should the factors leading to the disease have a family history and are hereditary in origin.

Here we also call for joint work by specialists in human medicine and veterinary medicine to limit the transmission of inflammatory infections of animal origin (zoonosis), which are transmitted from animals to humans and spread rapidly, becoming a transcontinental epidemic or a global pandemic, as was the case in the Corona pandemic.

If we look at the death rate for children under the age of five years, we find that their rate is the highest in the world, representing about 46% of deaths. The main causes of death in children are pneumonia at a rate of 13%, diarrhea at a rate of 8%, and malaria at a rate of 5%.

All these diseases are considered easy to treat if methods are available and infected children are treated quickly. Malnutrition also plays the most important cause of death, and this is not only among children, but also among pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

In terms of the number of deaths for all age groups, malnutrition has a higher percentage than the combined percentage of deaths from the three major transmitted diseases (the top three killers) – malaria infections, tuberculosis, and AIDS together.

Focusing on malnutrition in children, we refer to the studies of the late British scientist and epidemiologist, Professor David James Parker (1938-2013).

Parker formulated his theories in his well-known books and references (Parker’s Theories) about the origin of some chronic diseases that start in childhood or in the mother’s womb due to malnutrition, and remain with the individual to prevail in old age and beyond.

Parker documents historically chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, which lay their foundations during prolonged periods of hunger (India and Bangladesh in the eighteenth century, the Netherlands during World War I, and Ethiopia in the 1980s). These diseases gradually worsen after the end of hunger (famines) and after people receive enough daily food again.

Regarding community health, public health, and family health, the World Health Organization is to be praised for its success in vaccinating 83% of infants by the year 2020. This has reduced the mortality rate for children and the mortality rate for mothers during the stages of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth by half from 2000 to 2020. We must here mention the eradication of polio, which has declined by 99% since 1988. This success reflects positive steps in 47 poor African countries, where polio has been reduced.

However, success in public health and prevention generally remains limited to countries with a developed health and preventive system. The need of developing and poor countries for health and prevention systems is the highest, especially sub-Saharan African countries.

Therefore, the number of deaths of children and infants remains high, due to preventable diseases, such as malnutrition and inflammatory diseases, which kill about 14,000 children and infants every day.

To take the third of the Sustainable Development Goals into consideration regarding Sudan after ending this brutal war, more attention must be paid to maternal and childhood health and the family.

For example, it is necessary to put an end to the circumcision of girls and to abandon old and obsolete customs that harm women’s general health and make it difficult for them to give birth. This aims to rebuild the health and preventive sectors in a better way that have been destroyed completely by the war.

This step will be implemented by building hospitals, health centers and pharmacies in cities, villages and neighborhoods, and facilitating access to them, especially for the elderly, the disabled and people with special needs.

It is also necessary to support the local production of simple medical drugs in the country and not import them from abroad, by building factories for them, thus providing huge sums of money to be added to the state’s treasury and used in other fields needed by the citizens.

There is an urgent need to review the blatant attacks on hospitals by hurling bombs at them or occupying them as shelters for warring factions. This is irresponsible behavior towards patients for whom hospitals were their last resort after leaving their families and loved ones.

Then came a day, unprecedented in Sudan’s history, when patients were forced to leave the medical treatment area under a barrage of bullets and bombs. This led to the death of women in the last months of pregnancy or with newborns as well as to the death of many patients with diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, and cancer, or waiting for life-saving operations.

This also caused the death of a large number of shelter youngsters, especially newborns and helpless children. One of the reasons was the power outage and the malfunction of the devices that were supplying the children with oxygen.

Adequate protection must be provided to medical staff working in hospitals and health centers by not threatening, kidnapping or killing them for political reasons, and by making recommendations and implementing them on the ground, regarding the incorrect and non-medically prescribed use of antibiotics, sexual stimulants, painkillers, drugs that increase body weight (fattening pills and injections), and dealing with creams that are not medically tested and are unsuitable for human skin.

Another recommendation is providing subsidized clinical and drug treatment for patients, and allocating expanded health insurance for those suffering from chronic diseases.

After the war, it is also necessary to put a decisive end to drug trafficking that targets children and youth in the country. Putting an end to its smuggling and trafficking across borders to destroy children physically and mentally early, and to throw working youth into mazes of inactivity and unemployment, or into conscription camps for war and combat.

It is necessary to rebuild colleges, schools of medicine and public health, and reference research institutes for diagnosis, promote the treatment and safety of medical drugs and food, and addressing the effects on citizens’ mental health from the war trauma.

Sufficient amounts of money must be allocated to address war and post-war shocks. It is necessary to open fair doors for the qualification, training, and specialization of Sudanese working in the fields of human medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, drug formulation and public health.

Finally, it is necessary to build safe and appropriate care homes for the elderly, the homeless, orphans, newborn children, and those without support due to the absence of parents and families after the war.

The world is fortunate that at the end of this year, infectious diseases and deadly viral infections, such as Ebola, Lassa, and Marburg fever, will not spread from Sudan due to the ongoing war.

It is known that Sudan is the El Dorado infectious inflammatory diseases, especially Ebola fever, a type identified in the Nzara region in Sudan, and on the Ebola River in Congo, both in 1976, which led to naming the virus that causes this hemorrhagic fever, Ebola.

There are five types of this deadly virus: Ebola-Zaire virus, Ebola-Sudan virus, Ebola-Reston virus (named after the Reston Microbiology Laboratory in Virginia, USA), Ebola-Taï Forest virus, and Ebola-virus- Bundibugyo (named after a region in Uganda).

These fevers are transmitted by rodents, and unburied corpses represent a suitable breeding ground for its transmission and spread among people.

We can imagine the extent of the failure of the world, both countries and organizations, towards the forgotten war in Sudan and how they have ignored it.

How high is the price that every citizen would pay if one of the consequences of unburied bodies in war zones is the spread of epidemics or pandemics closely related to the three deadly and lethal hemorrhagic viruses?

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