Medical staff operating in the Um Rakuba health centre in East Sudan, which was refurbished and rehabilitated by UNDP.
Medical staff operating in the Um Rakuba health centre in East Sudan, which was refurbished and rehabilitated by UNDP.

Using data and capacity building to enhance Sudan’s health system

As countries move towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring good health and wellbeing remains a top global priority. This story highlights the contributions of two UN Volunteers to the public health system in Sudan, which is severely affected by years of underfunding. The situation is further complicated by humanitarian needs reaching record levels in the country.

Serving as a Public Health Specialist with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Khartoum, national UN Volunteer Mohamed Maher Saad works closely with the Federal Ministry of Health in data collection. He is supporting the development of a digital library which will make a health database and research available to medical personnel and students, who can also use it to publish studies and research papers.

Additionally, Mohamed is helping with the development of a mobile application called Health Pulse. This will facilitate disease surveillance and treatment, tracking of epidemic outbreaks and management of chronic diseases.

Despite the challenges Mohamed faces in his work, namely scarcity and inaccuracy of health-related data in Sudan, he is proud of being a part of these two projects and witnessing them come to life.

High-quality health data is essential for responding to specific health needs, monitoring progress and evaluating the impact of health programmes. It is vital for good public health decisions and informed policymaking. --Mohamed Maher Saad, national UN Volunteer with UNDP, Sudan

For Mohamed, serving as a UN Volunteer has been an opportunity to meet new people, discover new passions, and gain new insights about himself and the world around him. More broadly, he sees volunteering as a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges. 

Volunteering brings with it a deep appreciation of all that you have in life and helping those in need is a firm reminder of what really matters. Volunteering is an experience that stays with you forever. The fulfilment that comes with helping others, the satisfaction from knowing you’ve made a difference, and the good old fun factor, are just a few reasons why once is never enough. -- Mohamed Maher Saad 

Waleed Ali Ahmed is a national UN Volunteer Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer deployed by WHO with the Federal Ministry of Health in Khartoum. His assignment supports strengthening health systems and delivering training at federal and state level on issues related to the SDGs, universal health coverage, global and local challenges and other technical skills. Through these training sessions, Waleed has been able to reach more than 500 participants in various parts of the country.

I help the communities I serve by building the capacity of health care leaders to deal with crises, strengthen coordination and engage local communities. The impact of my work is tangible, as I have seen increased interaction in the health sector to improve the accessibility and affordability of health services. --Waleed Alia Ahmed, national UN Volunteer Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer with WHO, Sudan

However, in Waleed’s opinion, there is still much room for improvement to address gaps in resources and the lacking technical and financial support.

On a personal level, Waleed says serving in this assignment has given him a chance to better experience Sudan, by taking him to different parts of his home country. Moreover, it has broadened his experience and knowledge, through his exchanges with partners and communities on tackling health issues.

Volunteering creates a positive impact. It allows us to help other people and share our experiences with them, while learning from them. --Waleed Ali Ahmed, national UN Volunteer with WHO, Sudan