In general, African nations do not have a high level of immunity to diseases that other countries have vaccinated against. That fact and the problem of lack of power caused an official from WHO (World Health Organization) to warn that Sudanese fighters occupying the National Public Health lab have posed a huge biological risk. The lab contains samples of several major diseases, among them measles, polio and cholera.
Fighters “kicked out all the technicians from the lab… which is completely under the control of one of the fighting parties as a military base,” said Nima Saeed Abid, the WHO’s representative in Sudan.
Abid said he had received a call from the head of the national laboratory in Khartoum on Monday, a day before a US-brokered 72-hour ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals officially came into effect after 10 days of urban combat.“There is a huge biological risk associated with the occupation of the central public health lab,” said Abid.
He pointed out that the lab held so-called isolates, or samples, of a range of deadly diseases, including measles, polio and cholera.
The director of the lab had also warned of the danger that “depleting stocks of blood bags risk spoiling due to lack of power,” Abid said. Free Press Journal
Part of the “huge biological risk” comes from nonfunctioning generators which keep the samples and blood cool. With the technicians gone…the risk is extreme. It’s also a fact that in major conflicts, opposing fighters tend to cut off the power to whatever they happen to be occupying. Remember that nuclear reactor in Ukraine occupied by Russian fighters? Ukrainians ultimately restored power, but it was a fight to do so. Biological samples are fragile at best. Whether the fighters using the lab as a military base will clue into that issue is problematical.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, along with partners in Saudi Arabia brokered a 72 hour cease fire on Monday. Whether or not it will be enough to prevent problems from the occupation of the National Public Health lab remains to be seen. The war between two factions of the Sudanese army has gone on for 10 days, with hundreds of casualties. The fighting forced the US embassy and other countries to evacuate their diplomats, leaving behind numerous American citizens (again). The cease fire is being viewed by other countries with a large grain of salt.
Several previous cease-fires declared since the April 15 outbreak of fighting were not observed, although intermittent lulls during the weekend’s major Muslim holiday allowed for dramatic evacuations of hundreds of diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners by air and land. For many Sudanese, the departure of foreigners and closure of embassies is a terrifying sign that international powers expect a worsening of the fighting that has already pushed the population into disaster. Fox
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