Dr. Ismael Konfe believes he won’t have room for more extremely malnourished babies in a few weeks.
Burkina Faso’s major hospital is one of a dwindling number that can treat malnourished youngsters in the Sahel. Escalating Islamist extremist terrorism is closing health centers and making it harder to receive aid. The percentage of severely emaciated children is predicted to treble in June, when peak hunger season arrives and households have finished eating last year’s crops but not yet produced new ones.
“Villagers mostly farm and eat. People are abandoning communities, nevertheless. Médecins du Monde’s Dr. Konfe expects more [children] because the situation is increasing.
Burkina Faso is experiencing its hungriest year after al-Qaida and IS fighting began six years ago. Upwards of 630,000 people are at risk of famine, according to a UN study. The U.N. believes that 3.5 million people out of 20 million are food-insecure.
Violence has destroyed or closed more than 500 health clinics, forcing people off their fields and into cities without health services, water or food.
This correspondent visited clinics in the North, Sahel, and capital, Ouagadougou, where physicians reported the number of critically malnourished children had risen in two years and there weren’t enough resources to treat them. In one of the hospitals, malnourished babies are in the same room as sick youngsters because there isn’t enough space to separate them, the hospital’s head of nutrition said.
Displaced women report eating once a day and not having enough breast milk for sick children. Zenabo Ouedraogo, 20, said jihadists stole her crops at night.
Sandra Lattouf, a UNICEF spokeswoman in Burkina Faso, said the agency needed an additional $18 million to treat malnourished children.
Without this financing, 700,000 children under 5 will perish of acute malnutrition and severe infections. It would be worse than the current crisis, she predicted.