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Mortality rates in Bailundo and Mavinga confirm a drastic situation

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Geneva - MSF teams continue to discover new zones suffering severe malnutrition and drastic death rates. A new nutritional investigation close to Bailundo in Huambo province, and a rapid evaluation by MSF in Mavinga in Cuando Cubango province confirm that the crisis remains acute.

Huambo Province

One month ago (May), MSF opened a new therapeutic feeding centre (TFC) in Bailundo, in Huambo province, to help the population that had gathered in three Quartering and Family Areas (QFAs). Today, MSF has more than 700 severely malnourished children there. From June 10-14, 2002, MSF conducted a nutritional study of approximately 15,000 people.

The study shows that, in this area, one child in six suffers from malnutrition and that this state of malnutrition is also the most significant cause of mortality. The death rate is two times higher than the threshold which defines an emergency. According to the study the children under five years of age are the most affected (75% of the deaths in the entire population are children under the age of five). "In spite of the fact that there is a rate of total malnutrition of 18% in the children of less than five years, the distribution of food rations for the families remains insufficient", said epidemiologist Vincent Brown, coodinator of the study.

Cuando Cubango Province

For the past three weeks, MSF has had access to the Mavinga region, where there is an isolated population of approximately 7,000 people in the south-west of the country. The infrastructures there are almost entirely destroyed. There is another 40,000 people gathered in QFAs around the city. The general state of population is miserable. Food is insufficient and the medical care is non-existent.

For the moment, MSF is the only organization on the spot that has the capacity to intervene. A first fast evaluation near the population confirms that an urgent nutritional situation persists in this zone. The results show that 32% of the children under-five suffer from malnutrition. Severe malnutrition affects 10%. As in Bailundo, an rapid assessment of mortality levels shows rates substantially higher than the threshold that defines an acute crisis.

In the first ten days that MSF has opened a TFC there, 100 children under-five who are severely malnourished have been accepted and are already receiving care. The organization is preparing to house several hundred more children in the coming weeks.

An MSF team of just eight people have vaccinated 10,000 people against measles. This week, they have also organized a food distribution for 1,000 families in Mavinga. "In spite of the fact that in certain zones the situation seems to be stabilized, the international assistance remains largely insufficient to meet the vital needs for the populations", said Thomas Nierle, director of the operations in Geneva. "What is particularly alarming is that we continue to discover zones, that were previously inaccessible,e with particularly high death rates and catastrophic rates of malnutrition.

"It is essential to today bring a help nutritional and medical immediate in all the zones concerned." Currently, more than 192 expats and 2,000 national employees deal with 14,000 malnourished people.

There are 44 MSF feeding centers open in 11 of the country's 18 provinces. The intervention in Angola is the largest current intervention for MSF.