FMoH-WHO Sudan press release: Crude mortality survey 2005

Preliminary findings of survey conclude deaths in Darfur are below emergency threshold and health situation in Darfur dramatically improved since last year.

Preliminary findings from a mortality survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health, UN Agencies and NGO partners under the technical guidance of WHO, show that mortality rate has significantly decreased in Darfur. The survey was carried out from mid May to mid June by 18 teams of over 70 epidemiologists from Sudan and other nations of the world. 3,100 families (corresponding to 26,000 people) randomly selected among internally displaced people (IDP) settled in camps, IDPs settled outside camps and residents affected by the conflict were interviewed. Number and causes of death occurred in the period between November 2004 and end of May 2005 were investigated. The result of the survey shows that the crude mortality rate is 0.8 deaths per 10,000 people per day in all three states of Darfur (North, West and South). This figure is below the threshold of one death per 10,000 people per day that is usually observed in humanitarian crises. A year earlier, a similar survey showed a crude mortality rate of 1.5 per 10,000 people per day in North Darfur, and 2.9 in West Darfur. "The three-fold drop in mortality is a clear demonstration that international humanitarian assistance has made a dramatic impact in Darfur. Therefore, "the three-fold drop in mortality is a clear demonstration that the assistance provided by the Ministry of Health and by the international community has made a dramatic impact in Darfur. However, we must consolidate the results and be vigilant to avoid worsening of the situation" says Dr Ahmed Osman Bilal, Federal Minister of Health of Sudan. Findings also showed that in North Darfur injury was an important cause of death accounting for nearly a third of the total deaths - particularly among men between 15 and 35 years of age, while in West Darfur nearly fifty percent of mortality in children was related to diarrhoea. "The combination of crowded conditions in the settlements, shortage of clean water, inadequate latrines, insufficient soap, and the mire caused by rain-soaked mud mingling with excreta, have combined to make hygiene an impossible goal for people living in small, tarpaulin-covered huts and these conditions need to be solved," says Dr Guido Sabatinelli WHO Representative in Sudan. Measles-related deaths were found to be relatively low, owing to a successful measles vaccination campaign carried out last year. Another measles vaccination campaign is planned in July 2005 to cover the unvaccinated population below 15 year of age. The survey also recognized a meningitis outbreak in North (10 deaths) and West Darfur (6 deaths) which was picked up by the Early Warning and Response Surveillance system run by Federal Ministry of Health and supported by WHO. It is important strengthening disease early warning and surveillance for prompt and effective control of epidemics. Deaths due to malaria (8.9% in North, 5.2% in West and 4.7% in South) are likely to rise as the rainy season sets in soon and preparedness for and prevention control is under way. In conclusion, the survey confirms a sharp decline in mortality in the recent months compared to the previous period, mortality indicators are below the international crisis threshold (1/10,000/day for Crude Mortality Rate and 2/10,000/day for Under 5 Mortality Rate). Major progress has been made by the humanitarian community and the Government of Sudan in Darfur. However, "it is crucial to maintain the momentum in the gains made by the Government of Sudan and humanitarian community" says Dr Ahmed Osman Bilal, Federal Minister of Health of Sudan. The survey needs still to be completed in South Darfur State and the full report with detailed analysis of all information will be released at the end of July 2005.