Sufian AbdulMouty

CERF helps Sudanese doctors to scale up urgent efforts

Zahra Jaafar understands the dire state that pregnant women in Sudan face during COVID-19 without ever mentioning the fact that she is also expecting. A doctor trained by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Jaafar advocates for more triage centers to take care of sick patients. She is concerned that not enough equipment is available and midwives will be tasked with delivering newborns amid an overwhelmed medical system.

That Jafaar is on the frontlines of Sudan’s fight against COVID-19 while two months pregnant is a sign of how dedicated and in demand she is. With almost no medical equipment, Jafaar brings her own mask to work and rubs her hands raw with soap to stop the spread of COVID-19. We can’t deal with all the patients correctly,” Jaafar said. “Coronavirus can reach us.”


A woman and her new-born in Sudan. Credits: UNFPA Sudan/ Sufian AbdulMouty 

With funding from CERF, Jaafar has trained more than 100 midwives on COVID-19 specific measures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Since the pandemic first broke out in Sudan, UNFPA has scaled up efforts to support Jaafar and doctors like her in training more midwives across Sudan to ease the burden on an already inundated health system.

“We cannot let children who are not even born be held back because of COVID-19,” said Massimo Diana, the UNFPA representative in Sudan. “Zahra is part of a lifesaving team of doctors who are trying to defeat COVID-19 but they need help. The funding from CERF is going to save lives.” Diana adds.

CERF funding is also helping UNFPA and local partners to strengthen Sudan's sexual and reproductive health referral system and raise awareness on gender-based violence.

Yassir Ibrahim from the local organization CAFA, one of UNFPA’s partners, explains that more needs to be done to educate citizens on how to defeat COVID-19. Ibrahim and a small team is travelling across Khartoum with a loudspeaker to broadcast health advice. “Many people are still confused about the lockdown and do not know how COVID-19 spreads,” Ibrahim says. “Community mobilization and what we are doing is very important to defeating corona,” Ibrahim stressed.

CERF has been a critical instrument to fight the pandemic and channel resources to where they are needed the most. So far, a combined total of $102 million has been allocated to support efforts.

All latest information on CERF funding for COVID-19 is available in real-time via