Feeding programmes in Ethiopia target vulnerable populations as strong malnutrition levels continue
31 July 2008
Over 16,700 severely malnourished patients, mostly children, have been cared for in MSF programmes in Oromiya and SNNP regions. Among them, 2,071 children suffering from medical complications have been admitted to five stabilisation centres where they receive 24-hour medical attention. Another 14,700 severely malnourished children have received nutritional treatment and food rations on an ambulatory basis in a network of 44 outpatient therapeutic programmes (OTP). Since mid-July, supplementary food rations made up of a corn and soja blend with oil and sugar have also been provided to 1,700 moderately malnourished children and their families. These supplementary feeding programmes have so far been opened in three districts of Oromiya and SNNP regions. In Siraro district, Oromiya, MSF has conducted targeted feeding distributions for an estimated 12,500 children. Each family with a child suffering from severe or moderate malnutrition, or even at risk of malnutrition, has received a food ration of 25 kg as well as three litres of oil. The distribution of a second ration is due to start next week in the same locations. In some areas of Oromiya and Southern Nations and Nationalities People's (SNNP) regions, the number of weekly admissions keeps increasing. The number of severely malnourished children treated reaches rare levels, showing that the malnutrition rates are alarming in these areas but also that some neighbouring areas are still insufficiently covered. The lack of access to healthcare supposedly makes people more exposed to acute malnutrition. For instance, untreated cardiac or renal failures can lead to malnutrition. While MSF is treating the most affected patients suffering from severe and moderate malnutrition, many more people in areas of southern Ethiopia rely on external aid and urgently need more food support. In Siraro district, MSF's comprehensive approach, made up of therapeutic feeding programmes and targeted food distributions, has led to a decrease in the number of admissions of severely malnourished children. MSF is continuing to assess new areas, such as in Teru district, Afar region. Recently MSF started activities in Duna district, SNNP region, to supplement an existing OTP. About 150 severely malnourished children have already been identified and incorporated into the programme. In a move to focus on the most affected areas, MSF has handed over its nutritional programmes in Arsi Negele district, Oromiya region, to the local health authorities. Newly trained local health staff will now be in charge of this nutritional programme with 82 children over eight sites.