Finding and treating malnourished children in drought affected areas of Ethiopia
Addis Abeba – After one of the most severe droughts in decades hit the Borena zone of Oromia Region, communities lost many of their cattle – their only means of livelihood. Thousands of people, mainly women and children, have been forced to leave their homes.
The drought has its toll on children, and malnutrition cases are on the rise. According to the Borena Zone Health Office, in September 2022, more than 1,000 children were treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), a threefold increase from the same month last year.
As the situation shows no sign of abating, a lifesaving ‘Find and Treat’ campaign is underway in Borena to identify and treat children with malnutrition in villages and camps for displaced people. UNICEF is supporting the campaign in collaboration with the Government in Ethiopia and with the generous funding from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government, through the Famine Relief Fund.
8-months-old Latu Doyo, is one of the children receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in Dubuluk Health Center, Borena zone of the Oromia region. Latu is referred to the health centre for further follow-up after she was first diagnosed during a UNICEF-supported ‘Find and Treat’ campaign at Dubuluk camp for displaced people. As thousands of mothers were displaced by the drought, Galmo, Latu’s mother, was worried her child would not make it.
A week after her first treatment, Latu is back to Dubuluk health center for her second follow up. She is yet to be out of the woods, but her recovery is encouraging.
After checking Latu’s weight and other vital signs, health worker Meselech Werku gave Galmo a weeklong supply of ready-to-use therapeutic food which will help Latu to get well soon. In one week, Latu is expected to be back again at the health centre for another check-up.
“The drought makes everything difficult; even more, difficult for my children. After we lost our cattle, I couldn’t feed my child properly. I don’t know how things will get better. Only God knows what will happen next.”
While Latu is recovering, one-year-old Sasi Hulufa is under close supervision at the stabilization center of Dubuluk Health Center. Sasi needs special attention because she has developed medical complications in addition to being severely malnourished.
Her mother Kabelle Boru says that the drought complicated her life. “The drought makes everything difficult; even more, difficult for my children. After we lost our cattle, I couldn’t feed my child properly. I don’t know how things will get better. Only God knows what will happen next.”
Since September, more and more people are arriving in Dubuluk camp. Currently, the site hosts more than 43,000 people out of which 7,200 are children under five years of age. Rufo Iya, a mother of three, arrived at the site recently after she lost her cattle. Her youngest child Ubsa is getting treatment for severe acute malnutrition thanks to the lifesaving campaign.
So far, more than 133,600 children (6-59 months) were screened in two rounds of the ‘Find and Treat’ campaign and children with SAM are getting treatment. UNICEF Ethiopia