In the past 6 months, some 56,000 severely malnourished children have been admitted to MSF’s nutrition programmes in seven countries in the region, a higher albeit similar figure to the same period last year.
A recurrent problem
“Nutritional crises are recurrent and cyclical in this region,” says Michel-Olivier Lacharité, MSF’s programme manager for
On top of this, a particularly heavy rainy season in southern
Early warnings and response plan
This year, and for the first time, all those countries in the
Implementing this response plan will be a challenge, and demand considerable efforts from governments, aid organisations and donors. However, MSF warns that an emergency response cannot be the only option.
Long-term solutions needed
“Malnutrition is a public health problem in this region, and it should be addressed as such,” says Dr Susan Shepherd, MSF paediatrician and nutrition expert. “The prevention and treatment of malnutrition allow many lives to be saved. They should become part of the set of basic health measures aimed at young children, like immunisation. Countries that have succeeded in containing malnutrition have all set up access to free healthcare and to adequate nutrition for children. It is vitally important to get out of the emergency mode and begin the transition to long-term solutions.”
While MSF continues to expand its intervention in the
* source: UNICEF
MSF currently runs 21 nutritional programmes in the Sahel region, nine of which were opened this year in response to acute needs in areas of Chad, Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. MSF teams continue to conduct assessments, while at least three additional programmes are planned to open in the coming weeks.
Of the 56,000 severely malnourished children treated by MSF in the Sahel between January 2012 and the end of June, more than 36,000 were treated in Niger. MSF teams are also working in northern Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania to assist people displaced by conflict in Mali.