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.
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."
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.
Nearly 160,000 Malians have fled their country for camps in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. While instability persists in Mali, another threat looms: the rainy season, which will further complicate the deployment of aid.