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Doctors Without Borders Says Childhood Malnutrition is Up in Somalia

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders says there’s been a sharp increase in the number of severely malnourished children in south-central Somalia.

Doctors Without Borders says in the past two weeks, many children have been treated at its therapeutic feeding center in Dinsor, in Somalia’s Bay region. Xavier Simon is the group’s head of mission there.

“In 2005, we used to admit about 10 kids per month. Over the last two weeks we admitted between 70 and 80 kids per week,” he says.

Simon says it’s not because of the recent drought.

“There is food available in the market, but some people cannot afford it. So we cannot say that there is no food anymore. There is a lot of food in the market, but some families, especially nomadic families, have almost no resources. They’re just relying on camel meat. Most of the time it’s not enough to feed all of the family,” he says.

More than 330 children are currently being treated at the Doctors Without Borders therapeutic feeding center in Dinsor.

“There are two different phases (of treatment). There is phase one and phase two. Phase one is for very malnourished children with associated disease. And phase two is when they’re starting to be better and they are not sick anymore, but still malnourished,” he says.

Simon says children go through a continuing cycle of malnutrition and disease, such as malaria, TB and diarrhea.

The next harvest is not expected until July, so he expects the high malnutrition rate among children in south-central Somalia to continue for weeks to come. Conflict has left the country without a functioning health system.

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