Foreign aid saves lives

Excerpt of Guardian article by Dr Tom Catena, the only doctor in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and a finalist for the 2017 Aurora humanitarian prize:

My heart sank last week when President Trump announced proposed cuts in the diplomatic and foreign aid budget. The budget suggests cuts in aid to international organisations by 44%, humanitarian assistance funding would drop by 31% and global health programmes would be cut by 25%.

Meanwhile the Australian government announced it will cut $303m from the foreign aid budget over two years.

I keenly observe these developments, not as part of the international aid community but as someone who sees the desperate need for aid every waking hour of the day. Since 2007, I have been the only doctor permanently based in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, home to 750,000 people. It is also a conflict zone.

The people of this region have suffered beyond belief, with aerial bombardments a daily occurrence for years. Villages and farms have been targeted, forcing the population to flee into the mountains, where they have little or no food. I have experienced the atrocities and hardships of this war, firsthand. I regularly treat up to 400 people a day. Adults and children with horrific burns across their bodies, toddlers with lost limbs due to shrapnel wounds and people suffering from leprosy or malnutrition.

We don’t have access to medical technology. Supplies are limited. We use decades-old treatments and often don’t have electricity or running water. We don’t even have reliable telephones. But I’m always on call, delivering babies, treating cancer, training my staff and, all too often, repairing the wounds inflicted by war, using what few resources we have, and with support from my incredible team.

The sad truth is that most world leaders and humanitarian organizations have virtually abandoned the people of the Nuba Mountains. [continued]

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