News / Africa

African Refugee Children at High Risk for Kala-azar, Malaria, Viral Infections

A newly arrived Somali refugee child awaits medical examinations at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 23, 2011
A newly arrived Somali refugee child awaits medical examinations at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 23, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Vidushi Sinha

Some 300,000 children are receiving vaccinations against polio and measles at one of the largest refugee camps in Kenya. They also are receving vitamin A and deworming tablets as health workers try to protect the children against deadly viral and parasitic infections.

Severe malnutrition has blinded one child, but her mother still hopes she will survive.

"I pray so that she gets back on her feet here, otherwise there is not much I can do but leave it all to God," said a mother.

Yet another child has met an all-too-familiar fate. She is among the 40 to 50 children who the United Nations estimates die every day from malnutrition on the Horn of Africa.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, says the epic drought often forces mothers to abandon weak children as families walk for days to get to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

“About one out of four are really in dire conditions and if children get to level four malnutrition only about 40 percent can even be revived," said Sheeran.

Pediatricians warn that malnourished children are susceptible to infections and that mortality is particularly high among children under five.

“Children are vulnerable to a number of viral pathogens, including measles, bacterial pathogens including those that cause cholera and other diarrheal diseases, as well as bacterial pathogens that cause bacterial meningitis," said Dr. Peter Hotez, a tropical disease expert. "Finally they are susceptible to parasitic infections especially a terrible disease called Kala-azar, otherwise known as visceral leishmaniasis.”

Dr. Hotez says that in addition to their urgent need for food and shelter, these children also need essential vaccines.

“Measles vaccines, possibly cholera vaccines as well, the meningitis vaccine - remember this is not too far from the meningitis belt of Africa so immunizing against meningococcus A," he said. "And then we want to provide hepatitis control so hepatitis vaccination would be ideal."

Health experts also advise sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent deadly outbreaks of malaria in overcrowded refugee settings. More than two million children are at risk of malaria and kala-azar in famine-stricken Africa.

Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID, on Horn of Africa Crisis

At the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, families fleeing the famine in Somalia are given aid, but also face new challenges. VOA's Michael Onyiego visited the camp and took these pictures.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid