To fight the double threat of malnutrition and malaria in Niger, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works at the community level, providing home care with so-called "malaria agents," people from the villages trained to diagnose and treat simple malaria.
Malian refugees began arriving in Mauritania in February 2012; today, almost 70,000 people are living in Mbera camp alone. There, they are far from the conflict, but living conditions are difficult and many children are becoming malnourished. Though the camp is far from the conflict, living conditions here are precarious. Since the start of the year, the number of malnourished children has more than doubled. Close to 170,000 refugees now live in the countries bordering Mali. They hear the stories of the continuing violence back in Mali. They will not return home any time soon.
The pediatric unit in Niger's Guidan Roumji hospital is overwhelmed. Since the beginning of the year, MSF has treated close to 69,000 malnourished children and 175,000 cases of malaria. Southern Niger is still rife with malnutrition. In July, torrential rains destroyed crops and grain reserves. During the rainy season, malaria-transmitting mosquitoes proliferate. And malnourished children, already weak, run a higher risk of developing a severe form of malaria.
This month, we visit the Ubangi river, where MSF is treating yaws among the Pygmy population; Niger, where the rainy season and food insecurity have exacerbated malaria and malnutrition; and Sri Lanka, where after 32 years MSF is handing over its last remaining project and leaving the country. Additionally, learn about the court case Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has brought against India, the "pharmacy of the developing world."
Ethiopian authorities denied Sudanese refugees access to humanitarian aid when they refused to leave the camp where they were staying. When many of them did arrive at a new camp site, a quarter of under-five-year olds were acutely malnourished. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened a therapeutic feeding center at the new camp and offered vaccination services.
A food crisis is affecting an estimated 18 million people across Africa's Sahel region right now, including in Niger, where four million children are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition, with at least one million at risk of developing severe acute malnutrition. At the same time, 80 percent of children who come to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinics in Niger test positive for malaria. MSF is trying to reach those who need help the most.
The difficult lean season in Chad has already begun, and MSF is working to treat malnutrition as quickly as possible. MSF teams screen for cases of severe malnutrition and distribute ready-to-use therapeutic food to malnourished children.
MSF and VII Photography launched the Starved for Attention campaign in early 2010. In an effort to rewrite the story of malnutrition, the campaign seeks to reform the double standard of international food aid.