Paediatric teams from the international humanitarian medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have reported alarming levels of mortality rates among children in Magaria, south Niger.
Up to 730 children have been admitted to hospital and of these, 208 are critically ill. They are then put into a crowded intensive care unit. It is reported that the majority of these patients are suffering from complications of severe malaria or malnutrition.
“We have never seen anything like this before and we fear it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Dorian Job, MSF’s Niger programme manager. “Each year, at about this time, we expect a peak in malaria infections, as well as an incidence of malnutrition above emergency thresholds. But we haven’t seen patients overwhelming the hospital in such numbers before.”
Despite these alarming statistics, MSF medics believe they are only seeing one-sixth of the children who are in need of care.
“While our hospital is already terribly overwhelmed, it’s likely that hundreds of children are seriously ill in the community and not getting the care they need. The children we are seeing are arriving at the hospital extremely late. Sadly, many already have complications so serious that they cannot recover,” said Job.
Despite attempts to tackle the high number of malaria infections, mortality rates remain high.
Job painted a bleak picture of the healthcare system.
"The health system in the area is chronically underfunded, lacking means, organization, training and support. This prevents people from accessing care and in turn claims lives. We could double our capacity and still not meet the needs of the children aged under five in the community.”
IOL and MSF