“We see children dying on the way to our clinics”: MSF Country Representative in Nigeria

Dr. Simba Tirima, MSF Country Representative in Nigeria:

 The past few months have been incredibly difficult for the people of northwest Nigeria and our teams have seen unprecedented high numbers of malnourished children in the medical facilities where we work in partnership with the Ministry of health.

 This year alone, we have treated more than 140,000 children for acute malnutrition in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Kano states. In Zamfara state, the admissions of children with severe acute malnutrition to our ambulatory therapeutic feeding centres are 39 per cent higher than last year.  In Katsina state, the figures have skyrocketed to almost 80,000 children treated for severe acute malnutrition while 12,700 of them required inpatient care.

We see children dying on the way to our clinics. We see children whose medical condition is so severe that we can’t do anything to save them. Escalating violence, displacement, soaring food prices, epidemics and climate change are the factors triggering this alarming health and malnutrition crisis.  

The scale of this crisis demands national and international mobilization for an adequate humanitarian response.  We call on other organisations to join in and support the authorities in meeting the most urgent needs of the affected communities. The northwest continues to be largely ignored in the overall UN-led humanitarian response and plans in Nigeria, which focus on the plight of the northeast of the country.  Ensuring greater access to lifesaving nutritional treatment for the thousands of people who need it now and during the next lean season is essential if we are to avoid 2023 becoming another devastating year for children in northwest Nigeria. 

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