Free health days in Sudan
Although it was weekend in Khartoum, I recently left my home very early in the morning to meet the Sudanese Society in Care of Older People (SSCOP) medical team. The team was organising a free health day in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Omdurman, a town twinned with Sudan's capital Khartoum.
To my surprise, when we arrived at the venue, I found large groups of Sudanese older women in their colorful dresses and older men in their white turbans waiting for the medical team to arrive.
"With HelpAge's support, SSCOP organises free health days for 100 older people per day and provides free medical consultations and examination, drugs and referrals," said Suhair Mohamed, the SSCOP representative in charge of organising these events.
Reaching vulnerable older people
To reach the largest number of vulnerable older men and women, the health days move around different areas of Omdurman.
Usually the team works from 9am to 3pm but on this particular day they worked up until to 5pm due to the large numbers of older women and men who were in need of healthcare.
"During the health days medical teams focus on medical screening and referrals, nutritional assessments, assessing older people's sensory functions and providing medicines to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases," said Dr Aziza Suliman, a geriatrics specialist.
Older people's committees and other civil society organisations in Omdurman help SSCOP to identify older people who are in need of free medical care for the health days.
I can't afford to see a doctor
"Three weeks ago I was seen by a doctor during a SSCOP health day. She gave me some medicines and referred me to physiotherapy for more treatment. Now I feel better and I came to see the doctor to thank her. I'd had back pain for a long time, but I could not afford the cost of seeing a doctor until I came to this free health day," said Mohamed, 62, who fled his village in Darfur three years ago and came to live in the outskirts of Omdurman.
Mohamed made a living as a farmer to support the eight members of his family. He can no longer work because of his health. Hopefully, the care he received at the health day can help him recover and maybe even start working again.
Find out more about our work on older people's health.