In Mali, one in five children don't live to see their fifth birthday. Acute malnutrition affects around 10 percent of children under the age of five. Malaria is still the leading cause of child mortality in the country, with pneumonia a close second. However, there are now straightforward measures for preventing and treating these diseases. In Konseguela, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is running a pediatric program in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project incorporates prevention into a comprehensive health care program targeting the main causes of child mortality.
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 February 2013 Month In Focus features brief reports on the following Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) activities: aid imbalances in Syria; assistance for Syrian refugees in Lebanon; tending to victims of the conflict in Mali; measles epidemic in northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo; battling sleeping sickness in South Sudan; and improving access to healthcare in Afghanistan.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have remained in northern Mali throughout the recent crisis in order provide medical care to the local population. MSF has treated 35 wounded patients in Timbuktu over the past few weeks and is running programs in Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso to assist those fleeing the conflict.
For the first time, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is employing seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) in Chad and Mali. 170,000 children aged between three months and five years received anti-malaria medicines during the peak transmission season. This treatment, recommended by the World Health Organization, will not eradicate malaria definitively. But in countries like Chad and Mali, where malaria is the first cause of infant and child mortality, it does have an important role to play in emergency situations.
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.
MSF is running a pediatric program at a hospital in Koutiala, in a region where one in four children dies before the age of five, and conducting mobile clinics that are helping to make healthcare available to many who previously had no access to it.