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After examining Zahar, her doctor ordered a Caesarean section. However, before the procedure could be performed, she had to wait for over an hour for the blood needed for a transfusion to arrive. But last fall, through support from UNFPA, the Ministry of Health, the Central Emergency Response Fund CERF and other partners, El Fasher Maternity renovated their blood bank, and it is now complete with blood testing equipment, a larger refrigerator, air conditioning units and a generator to prevent electricity interruptions.
Shortly after the renovation, Zahar Ali returned to give birth to her second child, again through Caesarean section. According to UN estimates, since , the conflict in Darfur has caused approximately , casualties many of them civilian and the displacement of nearly 3 million people.
In January, an eruption of violence in the region's Jebel Marra area displaced over , individuals, more than 85, of whom have since fled to camps and emergency settlements in North Darfur. The decade-plus of fighting has also resulted in chronic staff and funding shortages at health facilities throughout Darfur and in a maternal mortality ratio that is more than double the already high national ratio in the Sudan of per , Globally, the unstable conditions found in crisis and other fragile and humanitarian settings result in 60 per cent of annual maternal deaths.
Like Zahar, many of these new patients may experience complications that require a blood transfusion, and the increasing demand will require an increasing supply of clean blood. In addition to supporting the blood bank renovation, UNFPA is also conducting a campaign to raise awareness among the citizens of North Darfur about the critical role blood donations play in saving lives.
This effort, combined with the fact that the hospital can now offer donors clean beds in a cool, air-conditioned room, has caused donations to steadily rise. And despite the many ongoing challenges, the staff at El Fasher Maternity now knows that they have enough blood on site to ensure their growing flow of patients can quickly receive clean transfusions during critical, even life-threatening procedures.