medical aid group Doctors Without Borders says thousands of children in Niger
are atrisk of illness and death because they're not being treated for
The group, also known as
MSF, is calling on the government of Niger to allow it to immediately resume
its nutritional programs in the Maradi region. Niger's government ordered the
suspension of those operations three months ago, accusing Doctors Without Borders
of exaggerating the malnutrition problem in Maradi.
De Torrente, executive director of Doctors Without Borders/USA, says,
"Malnutrition is a medical and humanitarian emergency, accounting for about 11
percent of the global burden of disease. It contributes to between
three-point-five to five million deaths estimated in children under five every
year (globally). The WHO, the World Health Organization, estimates that there
are 178 million malnourished people across the globe, and at any given moment,
about 20 million of those are suffering from the most severe form of
malnutrition, the most life threatening one."
estimates that only about three percent of those 20 million receive the UN
Niger is one of the malnutrition hotspots around the world…. And Doctors
Without Borders, or MSF, medical teams have been treating malnutrition in that
country since 2001," he says.
says by mid-September, medical teams had admitted over 61,000 children
suffering acute malnutrition into feeding programs. He says, "This is a
recurring situation. Year after year, we've treated tens of thousands of
acutely malnourished children with therapeutic, ready-to-use food. These are
pastes, innovative pastes that do not require refrigeration or cooking. We're
in a chronic emergency."
De Torrente says a
partnership had produced very good results in the past.
recognize the need to find a long-term solution to this problem of
malnutrition, rather than conducting emergency responses every year to the
seasonal outbreaks of acute malnutrition that occur, particularly between the
harvests. And we recognize the need to partner with the government of Niger and
the Ministry of Health that have the long term responsibility for the care and
welfare and health of the children in Niger. And that's why it's so incredibly
frustrating for us to be forced to cease this important, life-saving work. We
are calling upon the government of Niger to let us immediately resume our
nutritional programs in Maradi. At this point, the lives of tens of thousands
of children are at stake."