For Children the Violence in CAR Has Come at the Worst Possible Time

Jacob Zocherman

"My team and I were trying to get a hospital up and running in the wake of violence in Bossangoa, Central African Republic (CAR) when we started seeing people suffering from severe malnutrition.

"Entire villages had fled for their lives into the bush where they had nowhere to turn and almost nothing to eat. Cut off from food, clean water, and medical care, children were being plunged into a malnutrition crisis.

"The emaciated babies were the hardest to see. Instead of chubby, curious and wide eyed, these children were sick and lethargic. But as a pediatrician, I’ve seen how proper medical care can save even the most severely malnourished child if they are treated in time.

"For children under five years old, the violence overwhelming CAR has entered their lives at the worst possible time. Without the nutritious foods their young bodies need to grow and thrive, these young children are at high risk for death or lifelong complications.

"But even in extreme cases, there is hope. Malnourished children can recover quickly when they receive quality medical care in time.

"In order to reach the children in critical need, my team began sending mobile clinics into the villages to deliver urgent medical care where people were hiding. Even though we were a small team we got a lot done in a really quick amount of time—we saved a lot of children’s lives that way."

—Dr. Yolain Civil, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) pediatrician

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This nine-month-old baby girl weighs only 3kg. She was 2.85kg at birth. She is severely malnourished and is being examined by Ngonzo Martin at the MSF (Doctors Without Borders) malnutrition ward in Carnot, while her worried mother looks on.
Jacob Zocherman