Sudan’s Health Ministry recently disclosed that hospitals in capital Khartoum were admitting as many as 255 heart patients each day, raising the question: what has made Sudanese hearts so weak?
The number of new cardiac patients appears exceptionally high, despite the collective efforts of Sudan’s health authorities and international health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
In October, Sumeya Akad, state minister at Sudan’s Health Ministry, said that 1,200 treatment catheter operations had been carried out this year alone, along with 260 open-heart surgeries, according to the independent Sudan Vision newspaper.
She stressed the government’s commitment to addressing the worrying trend, saying her ministry would "not drag its feet" in this regard.
The Health Ministry, she was quoted as saying, would continue to work towards "creating an environment free of disease, giving special consideration to heart patients."
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Naeema Hassan al Gasser, the WHO’s representative in Sudan, attributed the trend to recent lifestyle changes, pollution and physiological stress.
She pointed in particular to the prevalence of smoking, poor eating habits and the lack of physical fitness among much of Sudan’s population.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Zyada, chairman of the Sudanese Heart Association, for his part, warned that heart disease in Sudan had exceeded acceptable levels.
Speaking at a symposium in Khartoum, Dr. Zyada said the situation had become "alarming", as most new heart patients were young people.
"Most [heart] patients are young people, suggesting that the cause isn’t related to age but to other factors linked to stress and Sudan’s economic crisis," he said.
Dr. Zyada said additional factors were aggravating the situation, including an acute lack of cardiac specialists, most of whom had left Sudan for economic reasons.
''There are no more than 33 cardiac specialists in the entire country," he said. "This is a major problem with which the concerned bodies must deal seriously.''
He went on to note that heart surgeries in Sudan were prohibitively expensive.
''The cost of the drugs and surgeries associated with heart conditions is very high," Dr. Zyada asserted. "International organizations should intervene to help Sudanese heart patients.''
Akad, for her part, told Anadolu Agency that the Health Ministry was providing heart patients with special support, including hundreds of free open-heart surgeries -- along with free drugs -- provided this year alone.