The West African country of Niger is currently experiencing a massive food security crisis and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding by treating high numbers of malnourished children in different locations. In this video, MSF Hospital Director Bengaly Aboubacar and other Nigerien staff at MSF's Madarounfa project walk us through the process of caring for severely malnourished patients.
When they first arrive at the MSF hospital in Madarounfa, patients go directly into triage where medical staff determine what care they need. From triage, severely malnourished children will be admitted to emergency care. These children often have other severe medical conditions and are sent to the intensive care unit where they might be treated for severe pneumonia, malaria, or anemia. After they’ve been stabilized, patients are ready to be treated for malnutrition and are moved into the ward where they are fed a nutritional therapeutic milk formula. Once they are out of harm’s way, patients move into the transition ward where treatment continues and the child's caregiver receives health education. At this point, some children are introduced to ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF); one brand MSF uses is Plumpy ’Nut, a blend of fortified peanut butter, milk, and sugar that contains essential vitamins and minerals.
Once the child is healthy, they are sent home and continue to receive regular care at the health center closest to where they live. They are usually given supplies of RUTF to cover them until their next appointment.