Rapid increase in malnutrition due to severe drought in South Central Somalia

13.06.2011 | General

Feeding Center-Marere

A prolonged drought in South Central Somalia is causing such high levels of malnutrition that the MSF hosptial in the village of Marere has to move patients into nearby tents for treatment. Over the past few days MSF was treating 122 patients in its intensive inpatient nutritional programme, almost twice as many as the capacity of the ward itself putting significant strain on the health staff of the hospital to provide the patients the treatment they need.

Almost one in three children is suffering from severe malnutrition with extremely low weight, signs of wasting and nutritional oedema. Malnutrition rates amongst Somalia’s children have now doubled and the problem is worsening daily. Latest reports warn that crops are likely to fail again in July.

MSF therefore anticipates that the situation will deteriorate further in the coming months. The MSF hospital in Marere is one of the few lifelines for the population of south central Somalia.

‘People are travelling up to 200 kilometres to bring their children to us as it is the only facility where they can receive freetreatment’ , says Hussein, MSF’s medical team leader in Marere.

In addition to the effects of the drought MSF is also dealing with a sharp increase of malaria cases. Over the past week over 250 people were being treated in the hospital for malaria. ‘Our staff are working hard to keep up with this sharp increase in patients, we have moved the patients from the wards into the tents so that the malnourished children can be treated inside the hospital’ said Karin Fischer Liddle, MSF’s Head of Mission.

‘We have to resort to unusual solutions such as setting up tents next to the wards to provide everyone with the medical care they need, whether it is malnutrition, malaria, or TB’, she concludes.

MSF works in the region since 1991 with currently projects in eight regions of South Central Somalia. Over 1,400 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide primary health care, malnutrition treatment, health care and support to displaced people, surgery, as well as water and relief supply distributions. MSF does not

accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia, all its funding comes from private donors

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