MSF in Ethiopia as malnutrition continues and numbers remain high

MSF started emergency nutritional activities in mid-May in the Oromiya and SNNP regions of Ethiopia. Initially it took in only severely malnourished patients - mostly children. Since mid-July MSF also has been running supplementary feeding programmes for moderately malnourished children and their families. These projects have opened in three districts in these regions.

Severe malnutrition

In the past three months MSF has cared for 20,800 patients suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Most of these patients have been treated in one of of 51 ambulatory centres where they get a medical consultation and go home with weekly rations of therapeutic food. Families are also given food support rations made up of a corn and soya blend with oil and sugar. Patients with medical complications, such as malaria or pneumonia, are referred to one of six stabilisation centres where they receive 24-hour medical attention.

Moderate malnutrition

MSF has also opened 13 supplementary feeding centres in Oromiya and SNNP regions. About 8,500 children suffering from moderate malnutrition have been admitted to these centres, where they receive fortnightly rations of 14 kg a corn and soya blend (CSB) with oil and sugar.

Targeted distributions

In the Siraro district of the Oromiya region a second round of targeted feeding distributions started on August 8, 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 of CSB as well as three litres of oil. In this area, a combination of these distributions with therapeutic feeding programmes has contributed to a decrease in the number of admissions of severely malnourished children.

Adapting activities

In most of the areas of Oromiya region, the number of weekly admissions to the MSF programmes seems to be stabilising slightly. However in the highlands of SNNP region, the situation is worsening as the next harvest is not expected before October.

MSF therefore continues to adapt its activities by opening or closing structures according to the needs identified and the number of admissions. MSF recently launched therapeutic programmes in new areas, such as Chencha, Dita, Duna and Bursa districts of SNNP region and Teeru district of the northern Afar region. MSF is now also assessing the needs in Ethiopia's northwestern Amhara region.