The struggle of a doctor (معاناة طبيب)
This is the story of Dr. Mohanad Hamid from Sudan, an emergency doctor who recorded these stories from the medical tent of the sit-in in Khartoum on the 3rd May 2019. He describes the underground grassroots first aid squads that emerged with the popular uprising and the challenges they faced.
Q1: What are the challenges you are facing when providing health care during the uprising?
The first aid squads were established during the uprising, so one of the challenges was the tight security grid on us. So our work was underground and all was done in secret through WhatApp and facebook groups. We established big mobile first aid teams to accompany the big demonstrations and others within the residential neighbourhoods with the availability of safe houses.
One of the challenges was the delivery of first aid and medical supplies. It was a big challenge for us so we were delivering them late at night in different vehicles, we would choose the streets carefully because if they were found during security searches we would have faced detention or beating and the likes. We had another challenge to evacuate the patients to hospitals after we deliver the first aid. Because many patients were taken out of the vehicles they were to be detained or beaten. The same happened to the medical staff as well, some of us had broken bones and varying injuries because of this. the other problem was in the hospitals, we chose the hospitals very carefully. Not all hospitals accepted the injured of the demonstrators, and there was security focus on certain hospitals. We wouldn't't take the injured to public hospitals because they would be arrested from within their rooms. Like what happened in Um Dorman, the ER was raided there.
Q2: What do you do to protect your self and your colleagues during health provision?
The protection measures... For us, since the beginning of the uprising when we discovered that the intelligence agencies have a focus on targeting health workers, we stopped carrying any proves of identity that could tell them that we are doctors or workers in the health systems. Our movement was very limited. We always change the street we come from even if driving, and we make sure that there is always someone in front of us checking the road for us.
During the demonstrations, we become invisible and we do not wear anything that could identify us as doctors or health workers. We have first aid kits with us. In case of an injury, we reach out to the injured and take them to the nearest safe house that has been identified by the revolutionary inside the residential neighbourhoods. We provide first aid and primary health care there. Inside these houses, there are protection teams and monitoring teams from the revolutionaries themselves. They monitor the movements of the security forces and they organize rapid evacuations in case the location was leaked or in the case of a raid. The safe houses themselves are chosen based on certain criteria, they should open to two streets or have low walls so we can climb them quickly or it should have two doors at least to make the evacuation easy and quickly.
Q3: How do you feel when providing health care during protests?
As medical staff or doctors, we treat all patients regardless of their ethnicities, religions or ideologies. So for us, treating patients is a humanitarian duty that we have to deliver. When one of us treats a patient, it feels as if he's treating the homeland! not only one case, but all the cases. We feel proud that we are contributing and that we are paying back to our country, to all our fellow countrymen and citizens. It wasn't possible for all of us to go out in the demonstrations with the revolutionaries, but we could treat and help them. We feel that we fulfilled our role in the revolution.