AFRICA/NIGER - Food emergency: number of people admitted to hospital three times as many than in previous years

Saturday, 30 April 2005

Rome (Fides Service) - Following the worsening of a serious situation of malnutrition in Niger, Doctors without Frontiers has intensified its assistance people in the most effected areas. The number of underfed children has reached levels never previously recorded at this time of year and the situation is deteriorating rapidly.
Since January 2005, only three months after the last harvest, Doctors without Frontiers has treated more than 3,000 seriously undernourished children at its Therapeutic Nutrition Centre at Maradi, a town in southern Niger. The number of those admitted to hospital is three times higher than in the same period in recent years. Families are already suffering food shortage and there will not be another harvest until October. Unless swift action is taken the situation can only get worse.
Because of the recent increase in numbers of patients, Doctors without Frontiers opened a second feeding centre in Maradi and plan to open a third in the Tahoua region. Another 500 beds will be available for patients in the most serious conditions. The organisation has a network of 13 medical centres to guarantee medical and nutritional follow-up for children who can be treated without admittance to hospital.
The organisation plans in 2005 to treat 20,000 seriously underfed children and distribute 850 tons of food rations to the families of the children assisted by its medical teams. (AP) (30/4/2005 Agenzia Fides; Righe:25; Parole:269)