Malnutrition Fast Becoming A Crisis In Northwest Nigeria – MSF

MSF, during a Twitter space discussion held on Tuesday, Sept. 27, said they had witnessed a 60 per cent increase in the number of malnourished children in Nigeria, in recent months, indicating a critical emergency.

As the malnutrition crisis continues to unfold to catastrophic levels in Northwest Nigeria, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is calling on humanitarian organisations to take every possible action to scale up intervention in the region.

The international humanitarian organisation, during a Twitter space discussion held on Tuesday, Sept. 27, said they had witnessed a 60 per cent increase in the number of malnourished children in recent months, indicating a critical emergency. 

“In recent months, due to the constant displacement, there has been an enormous increase in malnutrition. Despite cases of malnutrition increasing globally, the Northwest is witnessing the tip of the iceberg,” Froukje Pelsma, MSF head of mission in Nigeria, said. 

In Katsina state, where a high number of children are malnourished, the MSF project indicated that they are getting ready to treat 1,000 this year as the hunger peak begins. 

“There is little medical assistance given to malnourished children, due to the massive cases… acute malnutrition weakens the system, they don’t die from malnutrition, but they die from diseases like diarrhoea, tract infection that later becomes severe, dehydration or pneumonia,” Isabelle Defourny, President of MSF France said.   

Despite the organisation scaling up intervention, “multiple drivers have led to the exponential increase in malnutrition since the beginning of the year,” Dr Simba Tirima, MSF country representative in Nigeria, said. 

“Since 2015, MSF has been unclear about the drivers, however, climate change, insecurity and conflict have played a key role in displacement, and the post-pandemic era gave rise to food inflation. Currently, we have more than 800 children suffering from severe Acute Malnutrition wasting away.

“Every day, we discuss numbers, but children die. We engage the donors to create more awareness of the issue, we need to look at it as a crisis that needs immediate attention. We are working closely with the Nigerian health ministry to declare a state of emergency.”

With the influx of patients in the region, the humanitarian organisation decided to expand its facilities to curtail the possibility of a further dire situation.

So far, the United Nations humanitarian response plan for Nigeria mainly focuses on the critical situation in the Northeast region, excluding the Northwest. 

“It’s essential that the Northwest is included in the next Nigeria humanitarian response plan for 2023 because this plays a key role in mobilising the resources to save lives,” Pelsma said.

“Other actors are coming in but very limited. The beds are constantly increasing from normal capacity. From the number of children MSF is treating, the organisation is raising an alarm because the current condition of children is unacceptable and so many lives are being lost, with the crises getting bigger.”

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