“Many people in Afar cannot access the very minimum levels of healthcare, food and water necessary to sustain human life”: MSF
Addis Abeba – The medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it is witnessing alarming indications of a deadly and escalating nutritional crisis in Ethiopia’s Afar region, requiring an urgent scale-up of the humanitarian response. In Afar, hundreds of thousands of people have fled from recent conflict only to find themselves grappling alongside host communities with drought, hunger and a staggering lack of access to healthcare and clean water.
“What scares us most at this point is that we are only beginning to see the very tip of the iceberg, and already it is overwhelming”Raphael Veicht
“What scares us most at this point is that we are only beginning to see the very tip of the iceberg, and already it is overwhelming,” said Raphael Veicht, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “In Dupti Hospital, which is the only functional referral hospital in all of Afar Region, we are seeing children arrive after incredibly long and difficult journeys, and far too many are dying within 48 hours because they are too sick and too malnourished to have a fighting chance at survival.”
Since April, MSF has been increasing its support to Dupti Hospital, which serves a population of more than 1.1 million people including hundreds of thousands of displaced people. This year, the number of severely malnourished children admitted to the facility has already exceeded the previous year’s baseline by a factor of three to four. Patient mortality rates are staggeringly high, exceeding twenty percent in some weeks. Thirty-five children have died in the last eight weeks alone and more than two-thirds of those patients died within 48 hours of admission.