“To be able to guarantee the wellbeing and health of these people, they need better living conditions, including adequate shelters and a clean environment with functioning latrines, especially during the rainy season,” said Maïyaki.
Looming malaria and malnutrition crises
With such massive displacement, overcrowded living conditions and poor water and sanitation create an environment where diseases spread easily. The rainy season brings an increased incidence of malaria, as the mosquitoes that spread the disease breed in standing water. In 2019, malaria was the most common condition among our patients in the Centre-North region. This year is set to be no different, with 7,231 people already treated for malaria by MSF since January.
“More than 60 percent of the displaced people in the Centre-North region are children, who are the most vulnerable to diseases like malaria,” said Maïyaki. With malaria, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to reducing deaths. But medical care in the region is scarce, with at least 21 health centers closed and 38 working at minimum capacity as of late May. Instead, regional health authorities are focusing on prevention, eliminating the conditions that allow mosquitoes and other disease carriers to multiply. MSF teams are ready to support local authorities in case of a spike in malaria cases.
Another health hazard brought on by the rainy season is malnutrition, due to the seasonal hunger gap that occurs between harvests. From January to June 2020, MSF provided therapeutic feeding to 1,580 malnourished children. This number will likely increase as food becomes scarcer in the coming weeks.
At least 2.2 million people in Burkina Faso are in need of assistance, according to the United Nations, and more than 921,000 are currently displaced from their homes. Funds and human resources must be directed toward the improvement of living conditions for the most vulnerable, says Maïyaki. “The magnitude of the situation is such that a permanent global approach is needed if we are to guarantee assistance to these people.”
MSF started working in Burkina Faso in 1995 and currently provides medical assistance in the Sahel, Centre-North, North, and East regions. In 2019, MSF medical teams provided 112,611 consultations countrywide. We also run water trucking services to provide people with clean drinking water. Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSF set up treatment centers in the cities of Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, and Fada, in addition to supporting health facilities and running community engagement and awareness activities.