Sudanese American Medical Association
UNICEF/UNI166353/NOORANI

In 2020, the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA) and UNICEF USA launched a strategic partnership to help support and amplify UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs in Sudan, focusing on the linkage between WASH efforts and combatting the spread of COVID-19.

SAMA is a 501(c)(3) non-political, educational and humanitarian organization made up of medical professionals of Sudanese descent based in the United States. SAMA works actively to promote the health and wellbeing of both the Sudanese diaspora community and of the families living in Sudan by delivering medical services, education, training and capacity building. 

Sudan is the third largest country in Africa and is home to a rapidly growing population of 41 million people. More than half of Sudan’s population are children who are under 18 years of age. In 2020, 9.3 million people – 5.3 million children – were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, which includes 1.8 million internally displaced persons who have fled violence.  reflecting a sharp increase from the 5.5 million people who were in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019. Only 70 percent of the population has access to a health facility within 30 minutes of travel time, resulting in many children dying every day from preventable or easily treatable diseases.

COVID-19

To add to the existing humanitarian crises, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of Sudanese children. The impact also disproportionally affects poor and vulnerable children and families, which includes refugees and internally displaced persons.  As of May 2020, around 2,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Sudan, at least 100 of whom have died. Medical sources on the ground have also warned of serious equipment and protective gear shortages. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, high unemployment, soaring inflation and lack of social protection and safety nets had already left many Sudanese residents battling to make ends meet.  

An older girl child shows how to properly wash hands using water and soup to a younger student from kindergarten at Ban Jadid Primary School in the city of El-Fasher, the capital of the state of North Darfur, Sudan. © UNICEF/UNI233850/Noorani

Together, SAMA and UNICEF USA will boost essential outreach to Sudan’s most vulnerable children and communities through lifesaving WASH and disease prevention services which include:

  • Helping families access sufficient safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • Building adequate sanitation facilities and environments free of open defecation
  • Reaching communities with messages about appropriate hygiene and disease prevention practices
  • Supplying medical professionals and families with personal protective equipment, sanitation products and other tools to prevent the spread of disease

Click here to read more about UNICEF’s COVID-19 interventions in the South Darfur state of Sudan.

Thanks to SAMA, this important partnership will improve the livelihoods for the children of Sudan by focusing on long-lasting solutions, systems strengthening, capacity-building, as well as bridging the nexus between humanitarian development and peace building.

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