Incense, smiles and jabanah: ISUOG Outreach in Sudan

Incense, smiles and jabanah….three distinct words which describe Sudan. Describing the essence of the country and program is Prof Hisham Mirgani Mubarak, who is both ISUOG’s Ambassador to the Middle East and Project Lead for Sudan. He is contributing to today’s blog to give more details on a country hardly known by the world:

“As we sat in the plane taking us from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to El Obeid, 400 km away for our second Outreach visit, I looked at the faces of the ISUOG Outreach team Gesu, Reem, Angela, and Yasmin sitting on my left. On my right was Sami, Sudanese obstetrician, and Sohaib from the local NGO facilitating our logistic. They were all full of excitement, eager to go back to El Obeid and build on last year’s success. What a team!

We came down the plane to find smiling, welcoming faces of friends we made during our first visit. There was Dr. Faki, the Minister of Health together with the Dean of the medical College. Just behind them was Dr. Khidir, the driving force for El Obeid Outreach program, receiving me with a big hug and tapping strongly on my back, which is how Sudanese welcome their friends. As we drove to the hotel we could see the tall large Adansonia trees, known to the locals as Al Tabaldi trees, guarding the entrance of El Obeid. No wonder it is the emblem of the city.

Adansonia tree, also know as Al Tabaldi tree in El Obeid

We spent the afternoon and evening discussing and preparing for our first day, which we were all looking forward to. The first day is always exciting meeting all the trainees. Everything was in place and ready. The rooms cleaned and ready, the ultrasound machines ready to function, and Hala, the director of the training site welcomed us with tea and coffee.

I was impressed to see Mohamed Khair, an obstetrician posted at the town Al Mijlad, who drove about 450 km on unpaved roads to join the second training week, excited and eager to develop his ultrasound skills and knowledge. His hospital caters for women from a wide catchment area including Darfur and some patients cross the borders from the neighboring newly founded country of South Sudan seeking care at his facility. His only referral hospital is in El Obeid, 500 km away! I was able to see the excitement in his eyes as he was telling me how the number of prenatal diagnoses of placenta previa has improved after the first ISUOG week of training.

Prof Hisham Mirgani Mubarak and Dr Mohamed Khair

All trainees were engaged and motivated. It was inspiring to see how they were learning and helping each other. Mastora is a mother of three that had to travel for two hours to have her first ultrasound examination during her fourth pregnancy. She was found to be at her 30th week. The glance at her baby’s heart beating and movements lit her eyes. Fortunately, no abnormalities were noted.

Hospitality here is always great! We were invited to attend a football match between the host “Al Hilal” team and a guest team from Khartoum. Fortunately, El Obeid team won!


The Minister of Health also invited the ISUOG team and all trainees to dinner at the side of “Al Rahad” lake a 45 minutes drive from El Obeid. The view of the sunset was just incredible! Everyone enjoyed drinking “Al Jabanah” the traditional Sudanese coffee.

Tomorrow is our last day for the second visit. Each time we visit El Obeid we feel we make a difference to the healthcare of women in this region. What a feeling!”

Prof Hisham Mirghani Mubarak


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