Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

A surgeon, who is the only permanent doctor for 750,000 people, has been honoured for performing more than 1,000 operations a year in Sudan.

Dr Tom Catena, 53, a Catholic missionary from New York, received the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.

He has worked in Sudan for more than 10 years, during the ongoing war between the government and rebel fighters.

In his speech he urged the international community to help solve a dispute blocking humanitarian relief.

Dr Catena is the only permanent doctor in the Nuba Mountains, where fighting between President Omar al-Bashir’s government and rebels from the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North has been taking place.

Listen to Dr Catena on BBC Focus on Africa.

He has been praised for overcoming problems caused by outdated or missing medical equipment at the Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, all while dealing with victims of bombing.

“The Sudanese Government is embroiled in a disagreement with rebels over who delivers aid,” Dr Catena said.

“We have to inject a bit of common sense.”

Dr Catena told people attending the awards ceremony the state wants to control the passage of supplies.

“Opponents believe medicine delivered by the regime will sterilise their women and want goods from foreign donors conveyed from neighbouring South Sudan instead.”

He has been working in Sudan since 2007, treating shrapnel wounds, delivering babies and amputating limbs.

The doctor was handed his award by actor George Clooney, who said: “We all have a role in addressing these global challenges. We all have a responsibility, each of us individually.

“We have to be engaged.”

Other finalists for the award included a dentist who did his first operation on a victim of the Syria war by sending photos to more experienced doctors abroad, on social media.

Muhammad Darwish, 26, was one of only three medics left in Madaya, which was under siege.

“That conversation will stay with me forever,” he said.

“To be in a position where you have to let someone without proper training operate on your son, and for me to take up that responsibility of opening up a living, breathing man on the table, it just should not have to happen.”

The procedure was a success.

Fartuun Adan, a human rights worker based in Mogadishu, Somalia, was another finalist.

Her husband was killed in 1996 by warlords and since then she has worked to rehabilitate child soldiers.

She also established the first ever rape crisis centre in Mogadishu.

Finalist Jamila Afghani from Kabul has campaigned for religious leaders to engage on women’s rights.

She said: “When you educate a woman, you educate an entire family. Their learnings are shared.”

Meanwhile Dr Denis Mukwege, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo has helped care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence in a country named the rape capital of the world.



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