Significant rise in malnutrition in Lower Juba

16.06.2010 | Lower Juba, South Central Somalia

Patients waiting under trees in MSF Marere feeding centre

Patients waiting under trees in MSF Marere feeding centre © MSF

The number of malnourished children being treated at Marere Hospital, Lower Juba Region, Somalia, has risen dramatically in recent weeks, says medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

“MSF is currently treating around 750 children in its inpatient and ambulatory therapeutic feeding programme.” explains MSF Assistant Medical Coordinator Dr. Sheikhdon, “Between January and May 2010, we admitted 1,975 children suffering from malnutrition, this is almost double the number we treated during the same period last year”.

Since mid-May, severe flooding throughout the area has wiped out crops, displaced people, and further restricted access to healthcare. This is in addition to years of chronic drought, insecurity, a complete lack of public health services and limited humanitarian assistance.

“Our staff have visited several villages and found high numbers of malnourished children within the communities. The high waters have washed away roads and made travel very difficult. Some people are using homemade rafts to get to the hospital. All indicators point toward a highly concerning situation,” continues Dr. Sheikhdon.

MSF is doing its utmost to respond to the escalating needs; recruiting additional staff in its hospital and erecting tents to extend the treatment area, which is now overflowing with patients.

“The MSF team in Marere is working tirelessly to respond to the increased needs. However, we are concerned that many people in need of care may not be able to reach us while we face limitations in reaching them. We have resumed outreach services to a small number of villages in the wider rural area, and hope to expand this care.” ends Dr. Sheikhdon.

MSF has provided free medical care in Somalia since 1991. In Marere MSF runs an outpatient department, paediatric inpatient department, and maternity unit where medical professionals provide delivery services, emergency obstetric care, therapeutic and supplementary feeding, surgery, outpatient curative and preventative services and tuberculosis treatment. In 2009, 35,644 people received consultations and free medication, including 12,756 children under the age of five. 1,308 people were admitted to the hospital for treatment and 2,882 children received nutritional care.

MSF also provides medical services in Banadir, Bay, Hiraan, Galgaduud, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle and Mudug Regions, thanks to our committed 1,300 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi.

MSF does not accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia, all its funding comes from private donors.

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