MSF surveys in Mavinga show depth of ongoing malnutrition crisis in pockets of Angola
8 August 2002
Ten days ago, MSF increased the its TFC capacity to 300 children. From
now on the Mavinga centre will have between 300 and 400 severely
Geneva - Two recent nutritional surveys carried out by MSF
in Mavinga, Cuando Cubango province, have shown rates of malnutrition so
severe they clearly indicate the need for large scale humanitarian
assistance for weeks, even months, to come.
Mavinga is an isolated city, in the south-west of the country. This old
bastion of UNITA is very difficult to access and normally has a population
of 7,000. Since the end of the war in April of this year, 40,000 internally
displaced persons (IDPs) have gathered there in the two Quartering and
Family Areas (QFAs) in Matungo and Capembe that were installed by the Angolan Government for the ex-members of UNITA. MSF was able to reach this zone in mid-June and immediately opened an emergency feeding programme.
Nutritional surveys, undertaken in July 2002 in both Mavinga and the
Matungo QFA, confirm the need for ongoing emergency nutritional aid and an
even greater need for increased assistance.
The two surveys, carried out on 1,687 children under the age of five,
showed that 25% of the children in Matungo suffered from malnutrition
(8.9% with severe malnutrition) and 12.4% of the children of Mavinga
suffered from malnutrition (5.6% with severe malnutrition).
These surveys also allowed for a calculation of a retrospective death
rate, for the month of July, of children under the age of five - with
alarming results. In the Mavinga area, at least five children died every
day during this period. That is three to four times higher than the rate
used to determine an acute crisis.
"In spite of the dissolution of UNITA and the hopes of peace, hunger and
malnutrition continue to threaten the life of thousands of Angolans", said
on Dr. Abiy Tamrat, coordinator of the emergency cell in the MSF office in
Geneva. "Ten days ago, we increased the capacity of our therapeutic feeding
center (TFC) to be able to accomodate up to 300 children. We know that from
now on the Mavinga zone will continue to have between 300 and 400 severely
malnourished children. "
Today, despite the start of general food distributions, MSF teams are
treating approximately 200 children in the Mavinga TFC. Since its opening,
295 children have been treated there. Any child considered severely
malnourished urgently requires immediate medical care to prevent their
The lack of vaccinations and access to health care since 1997 in the zones
under UNITA control has increased the risks of epidemics where an outbreak
would prove particularly serious in such a nutritional context.
MSF has been active in Angola since 1983 and currently has 174 expat staff
and more than 2,200 national staff members. The MSF teams are present in
11 of the 18 provinces and have been trying to reach the isolated
populations where access remains difficult due to mines, ruined roads,
bridges and other infrastructures.