Andrea Keuhn, 30, from Vancouver, Canada has been working with MSF in Bokoro for three months as Nurse Supervisor for the MSF mobile malnutrition clinics. She says working for MSF is something she’s always wanted to do. “Every person has the ability to do something to make the world a better place and so this is what I'm doing.”
About the malnutrition crisis in Bokoro, Chad she says:
“The most difficult thing is seeing children suffering and knowing that we, MSF, are able to help but a lot of times the mothers and the fathers don't accept or put off receiving the care we provide. Sometimes mothers arrive at our clinic with an extremely ill child. They haven't brought their child earlier because they've taken them first to see traditional healers. Often that doesn’t help the health of their child and so by the time the child finally arrives in our clinics they're extremely ill. I've never seen such sick, such acutely sick, such a high number of very sick children in my life. Even with my background as a nurse in Canada the level of acuity is astonishing”.
"When I first arrived in May it was about 45 degrees °C. And that only adds to the everyday challenges of working here. And it affects our patients. If you have a sick child and they’re in the heat they're more likely to become dehydrated.
"Right now it's the rainy season. You can see the corn and peanuts that families are growing but the problem is it probably won't be enough to get them through until next year.
“Another issue is the lack of knowledge about nutrition. Women are not breastfeeding their children long enough. There's no birth spacing between children so women tend to have one child and then they end up pregnant soon after with the next, and the mothers have a lot of misconceptions about breastfeeding. If they're pregnant they stop breastfeeding their older children, and then of course that causes malnutrition. Or they won't breastfeed multiple children at the same time. So often you'll see mothers come to our clinics and they have one child that's malnourished and then they have a chubby, healthy little infant in their arms as well. Really they should be breastfeeding both.”