December 1, 2023

Ethiopia hospital admitting four times as many severely malnourished children as last year

People receive service from a mobile health and nutrition clinic set up in Freweyni town health centre, north of Mekelle, ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Zerihun Sewunet
People receive service from a mobile health and nutrition clinic set up in Freweyni town health centre, north of Mekelle. -Many health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and essential supplies looted, inlcluding of the one where the mobile clinic is set up in. Conditions in displacement sites in Tigray where the population is overwhelmingly women and children are extremely difficult and the needs remain huge. Malnutrition is on the increase Children are unable to receive health care because the facilities are non-functional There has been no vaccination since the conflict started in November Water supply systems are damaged, affecting access to safe and clean water Survivors of sexual violence are not receiving much-needed help ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2021/Zerihun Sewunet

The number of severely malnourished children admitted to Dupti Hospital in Ethiopia’s Afar region is up to four times the number seen in 2021, according to Doctors Without Borders,

Dupti Hospital serves over 1.1 million people, many of whom have been displaced from their homes due to ongoing conflict.

In a recent report, the organization revealed many concerning statistics about patients at the hospital amid famine-like conditions and regional chaos. “Patient mortality rates are staggeringly high, exceeding 20 percent in some weeks,” said Doctors Without Borders.

Over a year and half since the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region began, its effect has spread throughout the country and vulnerable populations have been devastated by its consequences.

“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,” reported Doctors Without Borders.

Across Ethiopia, hunger is a major issue as millions of people have been displaced and food systems have been damaged by conflict. According to data from the United Nations, 400,000 people in the Tigray region face phase 5 ‘catastrophic’ levels of food insecurity, which is the highest number on record in a single country since 2011.

In March, the UN World Food Programme reported that 20.4 million people are in need of food assistance in Ethiopia.

“To even begin to get control of this, major humanitarian assistance is urgently needed for displaced people and vulnerable host communities, with food security, primary healthcare, nutrition and water as key points of focus,” said Raphael Veicht, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Addis Ababa.

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