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MSF in Ethiopia, 2008
Field Staff: 1,152
Reason for Intervention:
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Ethiopia was struck by a nutritional crisis in 2008, devastating several regions in the south of the country. A combination of several factors, including droughts and a dramatic rise in food prices, left hundreds of thousands of people without food, struggling to survive. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams, were able to launch an immediate emergency response.
Initially, teams could care only for those suffering from severe malnutrition, and focused on children since they were the most at risk. In mid-July, feeding programs for moderately malnourished children and their families were opened. By September, more than 700 staff were working in MSF’s nutritional programs. By the end of the emergency intervention, MSF had treated more than 34,800 severely malnourished people and more than 37,600 moderately malnourished people. A targeted feeding program had also provided food to 14,000 children who were at risk of being malnourished. In February and March, a measles vaccination campaign was also carried out in Oromiya region and around 93,000 children were vaccinated.
Although the nutritional crisis hit hardest in the south, other areas were also affected. In August, a nutritional intervention was launched in the Afar region of northeast Ethiopia. In September, MSF teams reported a deteriorating humanitarian situation around Wardher in the conflict-affected area of the Somali region. Thousands of people who had fled their homes gathered on the town’s outskirts in search of food and water. With a clinic in Wardher town, MSF was able to provide medical care to the displaced people and the town inhabitants. However, from September on, teams could no longer use mobile clinics throughout the wider Wardher area due to insecurity in the region.
Projects continued in Cherrati and Degahbur, also in the Somali region. In Cherrati, MSF provided primary healthcare and treatment for tuberculosis (TB). Over the course of the year more than 18,500 outpatient consultations were undertaken and nearly 700 people were started on TB treatment. In December the Cherrati project was handed over to the local health authorities.
In Degahbur, medical teams work in a hospital providing inpatient and outpatient care and nutritional assistance. In 2008, more than 7,300 outpatient consultations were provided and more than 6,000 people received nutritional care.
In July, MSF had to close its project in Fiiq, in the Ogaden region due to administrative hurdles and insecurity. This prevented teams from providing medical care to people in and around the town. Despite various agreements signed with the federal authorities, MSF international staff did not receive the necessary work permits and could work for only short periods at a time.
In the north, MSF continued to care for people with kala azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis, in Humera, Tigray region, and Abdurafi, Amhara region; and lobbied for an improved response to this neglected disease. Kala azar, transmitted by sand fly, is almost always fatal if left untreated, but with proper care it is possible to cure over 90 percent of primary cases. In the health clinic in Abdurafi, MSF also cared for people living with HIV/AIDS, including those co-infected with kala azar and TB. In 2008 some 500 patients were provided with therapeutic food and more than 360 children under the age of five were treated for malnutrition. In the clinic’s emergency medical unit, MSF treated more than 670 people throughout the year, including patients with severe cases of malaria and meningitis.
MSF has worked in Ethiopia since 1984.