MSF outreach team at a mobile clinic in Khoratunje in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.
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Crisis Update: September 2017

Three rainy seasons in a row without substantial rain have led to a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Crops have failed, cattle have died, and millions of people across the country face shortages of food and water. People in the country’s Somali region have been particularly affected by disease outbreaks and acute malnutrition.


In the Somali region’s Doolo zone, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is witnessing the highest numbers of young children suffering from severe acute malnutrition since the organization began working there 10 years ago. This crisis is affecting a population that already faces outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea and other diseases like measles.

MSF is running inpatient and outpatient nutritional therapeutic centers to help address the crisis. In 2017, teams have so far treated 12,284 children under the age of five for severe malnutrition in MSF’s emergency project in the Somali region.

Disease Outbreaks

MSF is also participating in the fight against acute watery diarrhea and has treated 15,893 cases this year. Teams also continue to engage in case management for measles patients and are now also treating patients with acute jaundice. With long-awaited rains expected to start in mid-October, emergency preparedness needs to be scaled up to avoid new outbreaks.

More Aid Needed

Humanitarian organizations must adjust their models of implementation to meet the current health, nutrition, water, and food needs to reduce disease rates and death among the population.

This will require the deployment of more staff and supplies to the hardest-hit zones and the provision of a comprehensive, robust, and hands-on response to the population. Donors need to be flexible in order to adjust program funding to the needs on the ground. New strategies to address emergencies and outbreaks are also necessary.  

This information is excerpted from MSF’s 2016 International Activity Report.

MSF continued to fill health care gaps, respond to emergencies, and provide care for the growing refugee population.

In Wardher hospital and other health facilities in Doolo Zone’s Danod and Yucub districts, MSF teams provided both inpatient and outpatient services, including primary and reproductive health care and treatment for malnutrition and tuberculosis. MSF also worked in 10 outreach clinics and donated drugs and medical supplies. In partnership with the Regional Health Bureau, MSF treated around 45,000 patients.

In Liben Zone’s Dolo Ado, MSF provided Somali refugees and the host community with basic health care, nutritional support, and routine immunizations. MSF also managed three health posts in Buramino and Hiloweyn camps and worked in the health center in Dolo Ado town. MSF also worked at the local district hospital of Fik, in the central Somali Region. And in Degehabur, MSF provided maternal health services and expanded the hospital. Mobile clinics offered basic health care as well.

In Gambella Region, MSF provided basic and secondary health services for South Sudanese refugees and local communities in collaboration with the government and UNHCR and ran a regular mobile clinic for refugees at the entry point of Pagak. In 2016, MSF offered basic medical assistance to 264,000 refugees and local residents and treated 87,000 patients for malaria in these locations. MSF also donated much-needed supplies to Gambella Hospital and supported the surgical ward.

In Amhara Region, MSF provided treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), including for patients co-infected with HIV and/or tuberculosis; efforts so far have resulted in a significant decrease in transmission and infection rates. Teams also treated snakebites and supported emergency referrals. 

In collaboration with Ethiopian authorities, MSF provided mental health care for some 6,200 Eritrean refugees in Shimelba and Hitsats camps in Tigray Region and ran a psychiatric care center and a secondary health care facility. In Aseko, nearly 4,800 children with moderate acute malnutrition received supplementary food, and 160 with severe acute malnutrition were referred to therapeutic feeding programs. In Babile, MSF supported local health teams to screen and treat around 300 malnourished children.