Nigeria: Severe nutrition crisis threatens tens of thousands of children in the northwest

A severe nutritional crisis is underway in northwestern Nigeriaa sadly growing but ignored emergency that threatens tens of thousands of children’s lives.

MSF sounds the alarm:We are preparing to treat up to 100,000 malnourished children in the state of Katsina alone. That international agencies such as UNICEF and WFP need to increase their support along with the Nigerian government“.

The delay in guaranteeing humanitarian aid in northwestern Nigeria is also due to The UN has not included the region in its humanitarian response plan for the current year, mainly focused on the situation in the Northeast.

50,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition, of which 7,000 needed hospital treatment. Without a significant increase in humanitarian aid, the situation will soon be unsustainable.

We are preparing to treat up to 100,000 malnourished children in the state of Katsina alone, and we have also expanded our response in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kanosaid Michel-Olivier Lacharite, MSF’s head of emergency preparedness. “The lean harvest period has begun, but we have not yet reached the peak of cases of malaria, which would further worsen the health and nutritional status of children.“.

Despite our appeals in recent months to both humanitarian organizations and authorities to intensify medical activities, we have not seen the necessary mobilization to avoid a devastating nutritional crisis.points out Lacharite. “The urgent needs of these children should have been considered a long time ago, now it is important that a life-saving effort becomes an immediate priority.“.

In the Rubber Area of ​​the State of Zamfara, Médecins Sans Frontières, following a nutritional warning, carried out a screening of over 36,000 children under the age of five. That The result was devastating: more than half of the children were malnourished e.g. almost a quarter were severely malnourished and needed emergency treatment.

Médecins Sans Frontières, in collaboration with the authorities, is launching an emergency effort in the area. In Katsina, teams have rapidly increased the number of beds from 100 to almost 280 in recent weeks, but the influx of malnourished children has been so high that specific admission criteria have been introduced for some care centers. In Kebbi, where MSF runs a day center and two outpatient clinics, they were treated about 1,500 malnourished children from March to early July.

In this region of chronic food insecurity, an increase in violence has pushed many societies to the extreme, e.g. about 500,000 people forced to flee their homes. In recent years, local armed groups or gangs have intensified attacks, killings, kidnappings, looting and sexual violence. Many people can no longer cultivate the land, livestock are stolen, markets and businesses are damaged by the sky-high prices of basic food – which remains above the five-year average in most Nigerian markets – in an already fragile health context.

The delay in securing humanitarian aid in northwestern Nigeria is due, among other things, to The UN did not include the region in its humanitarian response plan for the current year, but instead focused primarily on the need in the Northeast. As a result, although the needs are well known, many organizations find it difficult to follow up on-site interventions and secure the necessary funding to secure lifesaving support in northwestern Nigeria.

“The dramatic conditions for malnourished children in this region can not yet be overlooked” says Froukje Pelsma, MSF’s Head of Mission in Nigeria. “Donors and international agencies, including UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), must step up their support for health facilities so that local communities have access to nutritional support in cooperation with the Nigerian authorities in need of their support.”

Médecins Sans Frontières has been fighting malnutrition in Zamfara since 2015 and between 2021 and 2022 provided additional support in the states of Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano. Today, Médecins Sans Frontières operates 25 clinics and 8 hospital services specializing in the treatment of malnutrition in these five states. Médecins Sans Frontières’ team helped nearly 31,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 2021. Recently, Médecins Sans Frontières also sounded the alarm over the situation in Maiduguri in the state of Borno, where the malnutrition center is full of patients: 2,199 children from January to June, with an increase 50% compared to the same period last year.

Leave a Comment