There Is Severe Malnourished Children In Seven Northern States – MSF

Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, has said it is facing an overwhelming influx of severely malnourished children in seven northern states at its medical facilities.

A statement issued by the MSF Field Communication Officer in Nigeria, Abdulkareem Yakubu, said the affected states are Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi.

The global humanitarian organisation indicated that the MSF in-patient facilities in Northern Nigeria have recently recorded an extraordinary increase in admissions of severely malnourished children with life-threatening complications, saying that it surpasses last year's figures by over 100 percent in some locations.

For the MSF teams, the statement stated that it is an alarming indication of a premature peak of the lean season and the increase in acute malnutrition that accompanies it, typically anticipated in July, stressing that they are resorting to treating patients on mattresses on the floor because their facilities are full and children are dying.

According to MSF's Country Representative in Nigeria, Simba Tirima, “If immediate action is not taken, more lives hang in the balance. Everyone needs to step in to save lives and allow the children of Northern Nigeria to grow free from malnutrition and its disastrous long-term, if not fatal, consequences.”

MSF, then called for urgent humanitarian assistance, advising Nigerian authorities, international organisations, and donors to take immediate action to diagnose and treat malnourished children and engage in long-term initiatives to address the root causes of the crisis.

MSF said that they have been warning about the worsening malnutrition crisis for the last two years, 2022 and 2023 were already critical, stressing that an even grimmer picture is unfolding in 2024.

It explained that they can not keep repeating the catastrophic scenarios year after year, wondering what it will take to make everyone take notice and act.

In April 2024, MSF reported that its medical team in Maiduguri, Borno State, admitted 1,250 severely malnourished children with complications to its in-patient therapeutic feeding centre, doubling the admissions of April 2023, pointing out that by the end of May, the centre was urgently scaled up to accommodate 350 patients, far exceeding the 200 beds initially designated for the peak malnutrition season in July and August.

It further explained that the MSF-operated facility in Kafin Madaki Hospital, Bauchi State, recorded a 188 per cent increase in admissions of severely malnourished children during the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

In Zamfara State, it stated that in-patient centres in Shinkafi and Zurmi saw a 30 per cent increase in admissions in April compared to March, while Talata Mafara's facility experienced a 20 per cent increase, saying that major cities like Kano and Sokoto also reported alarming surges, with increases of 75 and 100 per cent, respectively.

It said, “The therapeutic feeding centre in Kebbi State documented a rise of over 20 per cent in admissions from March to April.”

MSF stated that despite the dire situation, the overall humanitarian response remains inadequate, with other non-profit organisations active in the region are also overwhelmed. In May, the United Nations and Nigerian authorities issued an urgent appeal for $306.4 million to address the nutritional needs in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, but this amount is deemed insufficient for the broader region.

In December last year, MSF temporarily evacuated a number of its staff from some of its facilities in Zamfara State, a development that some residents say might lead to serious setbacks in the area of healthcare delivery, especially in rural areas.

Last updated on July 11th, 2024 at 12:05 am

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