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MSF in Djibouti , 2010
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Drought, rising food prices and increased numbers of migrants passing through the country have had a profound impact on Djibouti. Levels of malnutrition exceeded emergency thresholds in a number of locations in 2010. MSF has concentrated its efforts on reducing malnutrition among children in the slums of Djibouti City.
Treating malnutrition in the capital
In 2010, MSF provided medical care for malnourished children in the districts of Balbala, Hayableh, Arhiba and PK12. These districts are home mainly to migrants, asylum seekers and Djiboutians who have moved to the city from rural areas.
In order to reach as many of the 200,000 inhabitants of the slums as possible, teams travelled from door to door to identify acute malnutrition in children and to raise awareness about the disease. According to their level of malnutrition, children were referred to one of six MSF feeding centres that provide outpatient care, or to MSF’s 35-bed therapeutic feeding centre, where children suffering from malnutrition with complications receive 24-hour medical care. Almost 1,030 malnourished children were hospitalised in 2010 and more than 3,620 received outpatient care.
MSF also vaccinated young patients against measles and provided medical follow-up. In 2010, almost 140 malnourished children in the feeding centres tested positive for tuberculosis (TB). Staff treated the children for both TB and malnutrition before referring them to the national TB programme.
Chronic food insecurity
Fluctuating rainfall and drought are intrinsic to arid and semi-arid lands such as Djibouti. The agricultural community is able to meet only 25 per cent of domestic food demand, and the country is heavily dependent on imports. Rising food prices and migrants passing through the country, who in many cases have left their homes due to food shortages, place additional burdens on food security. Malnutrition is chronic, and cases increase between the months of August and November, a period known as the hunger gap, when food stocks tend to run out. MSF found that admissions to some of its feeding centres doubled during the hunger gap.
In August 2010, a fire in the district of Ambouli left 125 families homeless. MSF organised a distribution of food and other relief items for the affected families.
MSF has worked in Djibouti since 2008.