Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MSF gives an eyewitness account of East African drought

As the drought continues in the Horn of Africa medical professionals are seeing more and more patients each day. Sometimes the doctors just provide the patient food to ward of malnutrition Other patients might to weak to eat and will instead require to be fed through tubes.

The poeple suffering through the drought in Somalia also have the armed conflict in the region to contend with. The war prevents most aid and food from being delivered to the people.

From Médecins Sans Frontières, Dr. Hussein Sheikh Qassim gives an eyewitness account from an MSF field hospital.

“In Marere, the situation is extremely dire. This is the only hospital in this part of Somalia. There are not any other clinics, not even mobile clinics, anywhere near here. People are coming here from all over the country. Word spreads.

Recently, the numbers have gone through the roof. Even on our quiet days, we are seeing twice as many people as we did on busy days before the drought. The hospital is absolutely full of patients. Some are sick, others just need something to eat. The malnutrition ward is beyond full of young children, most of them too weak even to eat, so we have to feed them through tubes.

Some of these children had to walk for over 600 kilometers [360 miles] to get here because their parents couldn’t afford transport and were too weak to carry them on their backs. There is an ongoing civil war in many parts of the country, with some towns and villages changing hands on a daily basis. These are dangerous areas and it is not safe to travel. But still the people come.

Those who are lucky and are still on their feet are admitted as outpatients, 300 yesterday, 400 last Friday. But lots of children have to go straight to the inpatient feeding center. It’s only lunchtime, and we’ve already admitted 151 children today.

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