Story
10 Feb 2022

Staff at Khartoum’s Jabra Hospital have been on the frontline since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Sudan in 2020, receiving the country’s first known case of the virus.

The first COVID-19 vaccine in the country was administered in December 2020 to a worker at the hospital.

Thanks largely to an upgrade managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Jabra is now one of five COVID-19 isolation hospitals in Khartoum State.

IOM has also rehabilitated 19 other health facilities around the country between 2020 and 2021, by improving infection prevention and control measures, establishing dedicated COVID-19 isolation areas and carrying out important infrastructural upgrades.

Special equipment is used to manage patients in various forms of isolation. This includes engineering controls such as positive and negative pressure rooms, air flow devices, and various structural barriers.

Dr Hala Shibon, the deputy manager of the COVID-19 command centre — a government-led network embedded in the Ministry of Health and meant to monitor infections in the wake of the pandemic — said the upgrade pushed the number of isolation beds at Jabra from 16 to more than 28 for chronic cases, and over 50 for mild to moderate cases.

She also praised IOM’s management of the upgrade, saying: “They don’t work as employees, they really work with their hearts.”

Ahead of the rehabilitation, an assessment conducted at Jabra in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, revealed shortcomings later targeted by the upgrade.

Special equipment is used to manage patients in various forms of isolation. This includes engineering controls such as positive and negative pressure rooms, air flow devices, and various structural barriers.

Dr Hala Shibon, the deputy manager of the COVID-19 command centre — a government-led network embedded in the Ministry of Health and meant to monitor infections in the wake of the pandemic — said the upgrade pushed the number of isolation beds at Jabra from 16 to more than 28 for chronic cases, and over 50 for mild to moderate cases.

She also praised IOM’s management of the upgrade, saying: “They don’t work as employees, they really Ahead of the rehabilitation, an assessment conducted at Jabra in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, revealed shortcomings later targeted by the upgrade.

While Jabra Hospital was the only one able to deliver full care to COVID-19 patients with equipment that is not available in most of the capital’s other hospitals, staff members were among those infected during the first wave.

The main rehabilitation work centered on improving infection prevention and control by installing 13 air filters, that can remove dust, pollen, mould, bacteria, and airborne particles of 0.3 microns.

Twenty air conditioning units were installed, the sewage system was upgraded, and painting removed mould. Sanitation and hand-wash facilities were upgraded and installed throughout the hospital. This included the construction of 12 new latrines for patients and hospital staff.

The laundry room was renovated ahead of the installation of washing machines that reduced the chance of cross-contamination of clothing and bedding.

The operating theatre’s oxygen network was upgraded and a storeroom for oxygen cylinders was built to increase the hospital’s capacity to manage a rise in COVID-19 cases. Five water-suction machines were added for the theatre floor.

“We managed also to have a dialysis machine (for COVID-19 patients) whereas before we used to transfer patients to Khartoum General Hospital,” said Dr Shibon. To support testing at the facility, IOM constructed an external lab to conduct PCR tests.

Dr Shibon is not resting yet and is already fund-raising for a post-COVID clinic and research centre to investigate the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 in patients.work with their hearts.”

In North Darfur, similar rehabilitation work was carried out at the El Fasher Isolation Centre to upgrade the structure and improve the overall capacity of the hospital to deliver the level of services required to manage the pandemic. Infrastructure work was complemented along with capacity staff training, a hygiene campaign broadcast over state radio, and the distribution of information, education and communication materials.

Since the onset of COVID-19, over 250 cases were admitted at El Fasher Isolation, said medical director Dr Motasim Ibrahim. The hospital mainly sees malaria patients, who account for most cases, followed by other conditions such as pneumonia, gastro-intestinal infections and sexually transmitted infections.

However, it is El Fasher Isolation Centre’s status as a COVID-19 treatment facility that has stood out. It is now also offering vaccines free of charge.

Funding for the upgrade at Jabra was provided by the Government of Denmark, USAID and was complemented by support from the private sector, in close coordination with the State Ministry of Health and the Isolation Command Centre, which also encompasses a call centre that is linked to a network of health institutions.

This story was written by Wilson Johwa, email wjohwa@iom.int

 

Jabra Hospital is among several hospitals in Sudan that IOM has helped rehabilitate. Muse Mohammed/IOM Special equipment is used to manage patients i
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