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Sudan: surgeons hone their war surgery skills

17-09-2008 News Release 08/173

Khartoum (ICRC) – Twenty-six surgeons and doctors from southern Sudan are attending a war surgery seminar that started in Juba today. The three-day seminar is organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The surgeons are based at civilian and military hospitals in various towns of southern Sudan, including Juba, Malakal and Bentiu. " We have many trauma cases in southern Sudan, " says Dr Maker, Medical Director of the Juba Teaching Hospital. " 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. "

The seminar leader is Dr Günter Wimhöfer, an ICRC surgeon who has practiced in various contexts worldwide such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya. Topics include triage and pre-hospital care, basic management of gunshot wounds, amputations, treatment of head injuries and physical rehabilitation of the patient. " 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 Wimhöfer.

The seminar draws on the ICRC's 30 years of experience in treating over 100,000 casualties of war, allowing the organization to standardize the management of these patients through protocols and guidelines.

Southern Sudan continues to experience a sustained level of violence. 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. This fast-response team was established in 2005 to bring life-saving treatment to fighters and civilians in remote areas, who are beyond the reach of appropriate surgical care.

The ICRC has supported health authorities and patients in southern Sudan this year by donating wheelchairs and crutches to Juba military hospital, and providing Juba Teaching Hospital with a medical kit containing supplies to treat up to 50 patients with bullet wounds.

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. The organization is still supporting physical rehabilitation work in southern Sudan.

Another war surgery seminar is scheduled to take place in Al Geneina, West Darfur.

  For more information, please contact:
  Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 91 213 77 64