MSF treating 435 severely malnourished children in stabilisation centres in Ethiopia's Oromiya region with new nutritional intervention
28 May 2008
Two weeks ago the medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a nutritional intervention in some areas of the southern region of Oromiya, Ethiopia, following assessments that showed alarming levels of malnutrition among children under five. MSF has set up three inpatient clinics - also called stabilisation centres - for the most severely malnourished children who also have medical complications, such as pneumonia or anaemia, and need intensive medical care. The centres are located in the towns of Ropi, Senbete Shinquille and Shashemene in the Siraro and Shashemene districts. As of May 27, MSF was treating around 435 children in these three centres. In Ropi, MSF is caring for 150 children that were previously being looked after by a Missionaries' charity. Many of these children are suffering from kwashiorkor - a form of oedema that is caused by malnutrition, manifesting in liquid retention in the legs and feet which can reach up to the face as the child's status worsens. At present MSF is treating around 175 children at Ropi stabilisation centre. In Shashemene, MSF set up another stabilisation centre in an already existing structure next to the town's hospital, where children had been admitted at a growing rate in the previous days. MSF is caring for 135 patients from the hospital and more patients are arriving everyday. On May 26 alone, 70 new cases were admitted. As of May 27, there are around 200 children under care in Shashemene stabilisation centre. MSF has also opened a new stabilisation centre in Senbete Shinquille. Around 60 patients were admitted on the first day. In order to treat children suffering from malnutrition who are not suffering from complications, MSF is also supporting several outpatient therapeutic programmes (OTPs) in existing health centres in Fajigole, Aje, Toga, Ropi and Senbete Shinquille. MSF medical teams are currently visiting those structures and other ambulatory centres in order to screen children for malnutrition. Complicated cases are referred to the stabilisation centres, while those without complications are treated in an ambulatory way with specific therapeutic food. Are present, MSF is treating 125 children at the OTP in Ropi and 150 children at the OTP in Senbete Shinquille. Medical teams have also started doing outreach activities in the surrounding areas and MSF expects to receive more children in the coming days. These activities are in addition to MSF's regular projects with a nutritional component in the Somali region of Ethiopia: in Degahbur, Cherrati, Warder and Fiq. Some of these programmes have seen a significant increase in the numbers of malnourished children over the last month. In Degahbur, for example, MSF is now treating 600 children for malnutrition, 20 percent of whom are severely malnourished. Given that the next harvest is only expected to occur in August to September, MSF remains prepared to respond on a larger scale if necessary and will continue nutritional surveillance in the area.