Posts tagged ethiopia

Lifesaving Mother and Child Care in the Ethiopian Mountains

Aroressa, located in southern Ethiopia’s Sidama zone, is a beautiful, verdant, and mountainous area dotted with small coffee plantations that are irrigated by natural waterfalls and meandering streams. In the valleys, cattle graze and children play outside the onion-shaped huts typical of the area.

But Aroressa’s beauty obscures the very serious medical issues with which its population must contend. Health centers are scarce, as are qualified medical personnel. Maternal and child mortality rates are high. The mountainous terrain makes it difficult for pregnant women to trek to their nearest health center, which could be 20 kilometers [12 miles] away, if not further. Many lives have been lost on these treacherous journeys.

On Thursday, we held a sort of clinic in the Ninenyang Health Centre as they are out of drugs and have a malaria crisis. It was a really hard day. The weather’s been heating up again and it was over 40°C in the shade. When people heard we were there they literally came running, babies in arms!
MSF nurse, Kate, and team are having a tough time in Mattar, Ethiopia, but are determined to provide healthcare where they can. Please leave your questions and comments for Kate in the comments below her blog post.
Photo: Mud roads in Mattar, Ethiopia make transport of patients and supplies difficult. © Kate Chapman, MSF.
MSF nurse, Kate, on overcoming hurdles to get her patients to treatment:
"On Wednesday, the river had risen so much that the area where we land the boat in town had broken its banks and flooded half the town. This left our only landing point around 800 meters from the road on the main dock, wedged between the many huge open top, steel cargo boats being loaded with contraband destined for South Sudan.
The clinic in Adura had been busy with over 150 patients. On the way back we had one patient for transfer in the car, an old lady with TB. We came across some men carrying a very unwell looking man. We stopped, found him to be critical, packed him in the car and made our way back to Mattar.
I called ahead to our base and asked them to send the boat with a stretcher and to meet us on the road. Of course no one was there when we arrived so leaving the patients by the car we carried the heavy boxes of drugs and equipment to town, meandering through the heavily bogged path leading to the river. This is very difficult as just walking without carrying anything is a challenge in itself on the treacherously slippery Mattar mud. I am twice as good at not falling over compared to how I was at the beginning of the mission, but compared to the sure footed team, I’m still a joke!”

Photo: Mud roads in Mattar, Ethiopia make transport of patients and supplies difficult. © Kate Chapman, MSF.

MSF nurse, Kate, on overcoming hurdles to get her patients to treatment:


"On Wednesday, the river had risen so much that the area where we land the boat in town had broken its banks and flooded half the town. This left our only landing point around 800 meters from the road on the main dock, wedged between the many huge open top, steel cargo boats being loaded with contraband destined for South Sudan.

The clinic in Adura had been busy with over 150 patients. On the way back we had one patient for transfer in the car, an old lady with TB. We came across some men carrying a very unwell looking man. We stopped, found him to be critical, packed him in the car and made our way back to Mattar.

I called ahead to our base and asked them to send the boat with a stretcher and to meet us on the road. Of course no one was there when we arrived so leaving the patients by the car we carried the heavy boxes of drugs and equipment to town, meandering through the heavily bogged path leading to the river. This is very difficult as just walking without carrying anything is a challenge in itself on the treacherously slippery Mattar mud. I am twice as good at not falling over compared to how I was at the beginning of the mission, but compared to the sure footed team, I’m still a joke!”

Photo: Cindy Scott, Mental Health Officer, Ethiopia © MSF

Bringing Malnourished Children Back to Life
Hiloweyn Refugee Camp, Ethiopia 

"Every day more malnourished children were admitted to our feeding program. They arrived at Hiloweyn with exhausted families who had walked for days, even weeks, from Somalia with little food or water. In an emergency situation like this, mental healthcare is as critical as nutrition support.

Research shows the brain of a severely malnourished baby really stops working except to keep the heart and lungs going. Yet children given psychosocial stimulation while they are receiving medical treatment actually recover more quickly and gain weight faster. Doctors Without Borders recognizes this. 

I remember one little boy, perhaps two or three years old. He was so weak he couldn’t even cry—he would just scrunch his face. For about two weeks, we joined his mother in playing, singing, and talking with the boy. She was worried her tiny son could not hear her because he was so sick. One day she held a red balloon in front of her child and his little hand reached out and grabbed it. We were all shocked and he just smiled. ‘I haven’t seen my baby smile in months,’ she said. Then all the mothers began laughing because this one little baby smiled. It was a sign that his brain was working again. 

Donor support means we can really go to the forgotten places in the world, where people think they are forgotten and no one is listening—but Doctors Without Borders is there.” 

Doctors Without Borders has handed over its project in Hiloweyn camp, one of the five refugee camps near the border between Ethiopia and Somalia, to ARRA, an Ethiopian refugee agency.

Photo: Cindy Scott, Mental Health Officer, Ethiopia © MSF

Bringing Malnourished Children Back to Life
Hiloweyn Refugee Camp, Ethiopia

"Every day more malnourished children were admitted to our feeding program. They arrived at Hiloweyn with exhausted families who had walked for days, even weeks, from Somalia with little food or water. In an emergency situation like this, mental healthcare is as critical as nutrition support.

Research shows the brain of a severely malnourished baby really stops working except to keep the heart and lungs going. Yet children given psychosocial stimulation while they are receiving medical treatment actually recover more quickly and gain weight faster. Doctors Without Borders recognizes this.

I remember one little boy, perhaps two or three years old. He was so weak he couldn’t even cry—he would just scrunch his face. For about two weeks, we joined his mother in playing, singing, and talking with the boy. She was worried her tiny son could not hear her because he was so sick. One day she held a red balloon in front of her child and his little hand reached out and grabbed it. We were all shocked and he just smiled. ‘I haven’t seen my baby smile in months,’ she said. Then all the mothers began laughing because this one little baby smiled. It was a sign that his brain was working again.

Donor support means we can really go to the forgotten places in the world, where people think they are forgotten and no one is listening—but Doctors Without Borders is there.”

Doctors Without Borders has handed over its project in Hiloweyn camp, one of the five refugee camps near the border between Ethiopia and Somalia, to ARRA, an Ethiopian refugee agency.

We’re treating displaced Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. A quarter of the children under five years old that arrived to the camp were acutely malnourished.

Photo: Malnourished children often became unable to swallow and nasogastric intubation is required to feed them with enriched therapeutic milk. Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

MSF Assists Aid-Deprived Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia

Nearly 40,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict have sought refuge in Ethiopia. View this slideshow of our work in the area to aid the most vulnerable until the situation stabilizes.

Photo: Malnourished children often became unable to swallow and nasogastric intubation is required to feed them with enriched therapeutic milk. Ethiopia 2012 © Yann Libessart

MSF Assists Aid-Deprived Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia

Nearly 40,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict have sought refuge in Ethiopia. View this slideshow of our work in the area to aid the most vulnerable until the situation stabilizes.

No one seemed to be hurt as people started jumping from their boat to ours and making their way to our dock. It was so ridiculous we were hysterical, dancing and slapping at the ferocious bugs that were greedily devouring our exposed limbs, while we cried delirious tears of laughter over the past week’s events.
Kate, a nurse working with MSF in Ethiopia, describes the trials and tribulations faced by her team after heavy rains sink boats, trap cars and unleash a swarm of ferocious insects.
Sleeping on the ground in day-old, fishy, muddy, sweaty clothes isn’t my idea of a great night out, but still it gave me time and reason to reflect and understand the people I’m working with better. Not the staff, though yes them too somewhat, but the patients. The oldies that come with general body pains that we send away with no medication, telling them its normal to have body pains after working in the fields cultivating, carrying 20kg drums of water for miles on their heads, cutting and carrying wood for miles just in order to live.

Kate Chapman is a nurse working with MSF in Matter, Ethiopia. Kate and her team have an unexpected camping adventure and gain further understanding of how local people live when they get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Click here to read the rest of Kate’s blog.

Click here to learn more about Doctors Without Borders projects in Ethiopia.

Watch your step

Delivery of humanitarian aid around the world has become a moral, political and military minefield.

How do you broker deals with belligerents to reach vulnerable populations without selling your soul? When is a compromise to gain access to populations a betrayal of them? When to speak up, and when to say silent, on atrocities? When is doing nothing morally better than answering urgent human imperative to ”do something”?

The suicide attack last week was ”a really terrible event, and to understand it we have to first differentiate between aid and humanitarian aid - and I am not putting one above the other, morally speaking,” says Fabrice Weissman, a Frenchman who for years has been negotiating moral landmines as a veteran MSF logistician and head of mission.
His experiences in conflicts from Sudan to Sierra Leone, Ethiopia to Liberia, are drawn on in the book he has helped write and edit, Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (Columbia University Press), but which is perhaps known more evocatively by its French title, Agir a tout Prix? (Acting At Any Price?).

—Jo Chandler
April 5, 2012
For Australia’s The Age

Read more.

Watch your step

Delivery of humanitarian aid around the world has become a moral, political and military minefield.

How do you broker deals with belligerents to reach vulnerable populations without selling your soul? When is a compromise to gain access to populations a betrayal of them? When to speak up, and when to say silent, on atrocities? When is doing nothing morally better than answering urgent human imperative to ”do something”?

The suicide attack last week was ”a really terrible event, and to understand it we have to first differentiate between aid and humanitarian aid - and I am not putting one above the other, morally speaking,” says Fabrice Weissman, a Frenchman who for years has been negotiating moral landmines as a veteran MSF logistician and head of mission.

His experiences in conflicts from Sudan to Sierra Leone, Ethiopia to Liberia, are drawn on in the book he has helped write and edit, Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (Columbia University Press), but which is perhaps known more evocatively by its French title, Agir a tout Prix? (Acting At Any Price?).

—Jo Chandler
April 5, 2012
For Australia’s The Age Read more.

Before, I was also a refugee in Ethiopia. It was a long time ago and there were many of us. We spent something like 20 years there as refugees. After that, we came back to Blue Nile and now again we are here in Doro camp, because of this new fighting in Blue Nile State.

For the refugees living all around me in Doro, there is not enough water for everyone. It is my wife who collects the water. When she goes in the morning, sometimes she can wait till evening before she gets any water. Every time she comes back and she tells me about how she had to quarrel with other women about the water.

Younassa Lifa Lenya,
a refugee now employed as a nurse in the MSF field hospital in Doro

Since November, some 80,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile State have sought shelter in two camps located in a remote and barren region of South Sudan where humanitarian organizations are confronting massive logistic challenges to access and assist them. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been running a substantial emergency response, focusing on providing medical care in the camps and in mobile clinics to villages along the border with Sudan, where several thousand more refugees are gathered.
Ethiopia: “There Is Still So Much to Improve”

In early 2011, there were some 40,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia. By the end of 2011, that number had more than tripled, to 142,000, following a mass exodus triggered by a terrible drought that killed crops and herds in a country already wracked by 20 years of conflict. The numbers alone, however, do not tell much about the days, or even weeks, Somalis spend walking to reach and cross the border with barely any food or water. It does not reveal the dire malnutrition affecting the children in the camps, nor does it express the effort made by humanitarian agencies to fight hunger and exclusion and reduce emergency levels of child mortality. José Luis Dvorzak, an MSF doctor in Liben, reminds us that there is still much work to be done.You have worked as a doctor at different times in the past two years in the Liben camps.

I first arrived in June 2010. There were three international workers and 35 national employees. We carried out nutritional activities in the two camps, in Bokolmayo and Malkadida (40,000 refugees) and the Dolo Ado health center. The second time I arrived in September 2011, the change had been enormous: we had 50 international workers and over 800 national employees. By then, new camps had been opened, Kobe and Hillaweyn, each sheltering 25,000 new refugees that had arrived from Somalia in the worst of conditions, with very high mortality rates. At one point there had been up to 13,000 people admitted in our feeding program. In September, after months conducting a nutritional intervention, we managed to reduce mortality to levels below the emergency threshold.How would you describe the medical situation endured by the population at present?

We still have children admitted in our stabilization centers suffering from severe malnutrition complicated with other diseases such as pneumonia or diarrhea—some 45 kids (during the emergency peak this figure rose to over a constant 150) weekly. The most common pathologies amongst the population are respiratory infections, diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and skin diseases. Currently, we are also implementing mental health and epidemiological surveillance programs using community health workers.Read the rest of the interview with José Luis Dvorzak.Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © Michael Tsegaye
An MSF staff member uses a feeding tube to treat a malnourished child in Liben’s Hiloweyn camp.

Ethiopia: “There Is Still So Much to Improve”

In early 2011, there were some 40,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia. By the end of 2011, that number had more than tripled, to 142,000, following a mass exodus triggered by a terrible drought that killed crops and herds in a country already wracked by 20 years of conflict. The numbers alone, however, do not tell much about the days, or even weeks, Somalis spend walking to reach and cross the border with barely any food or water. It does not reveal the dire malnutrition affecting the children in the camps, nor does it express the effort made by humanitarian agencies to fight hunger and exclusion and reduce emergency levels of child mortality. José Luis Dvorzak, an MSF doctor in Liben, reminds us that there is still much work to be done.

You have worked as a doctor at different times in the past two years in the Liben camps.

I first arrived in June 2010. There were three international workers and 35 national employees. We carried out nutritional activities in the two camps, in Bokolmayo and Malkadida (40,000 refugees) and the Dolo Ado health center. The second time I arrived in September 2011, the change had been enormous: we had 50 international workers and over 800 national employees. By then, new camps had been opened, Kobe and Hillaweyn, each sheltering 25,000 new refugees that had arrived from Somalia in the worst of conditions, with very high mortality rates. At one point there had been up to 13,000 people admitted in our feeding program. In September, after months conducting a nutritional intervention, we managed to reduce mortality to levels below the emergency threshold.

How would you describe the medical situation endured by the population at present?

We still have children admitted in our stabilization centers suffering from severe malnutrition complicated with other diseases such as pneumonia or diarrhea—some 45 kids (during the emergency peak this figure rose to over a constant 150) weekly. The most common pathologies amongst the population are respiratory infections, diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and skin diseases. Currently, we are also implementing mental health and epidemiological surveillance programs using community health workers.

Read the rest of the interview with José Luis Dvorzak.

Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © Michael Tsegaye
An MSF staff member uses a feeding tube to treat a malnourished child in Liben’s Hiloweyn camp.

Somalis in Ethiopia: “It Is Not Good for People to Fear Every Day and Night”




“We are from Gedo [region, not far from Ethiopia], and for the last ten years we have had to flee to Ethiopia regularly because of war or draught,” said Zaynab when asked how she came to the Dolo Health Center. “I think this is the fourth or fifth time that we are back in Ethiopia.”

—Zaynab and her three-year-old son Ibrahim have been in the intensive therapeutic feeding center (ITFC) of Dolo Health Center for 17 days because Ibrahim was severely malnourished.


To read more about Zaynab and Ibrahim’s story and the stories of other Somali refugees in Ethiopia read the rest of the article here.


Photo:Ethiopia 2011 © Michael Tsegaye (Zaynab brought her son Ibrahim to the Hiloweyn ITFC to get treatment for his severe malnourishment.)

Somalis in Ethiopia: “It Is Not Good for People to Fear Every Day and Night”


“We are from Gedo [region, not far from Ethiopia], and for the last ten years we have had to flee to Ethiopia regularly because of war or draught,” said Zaynab when asked how she came to the Dolo Health Center. “I think this is the fourth or fifth time that we are back in Ethiopia.”

—Zaynab and her three-year-old son Ibrahim have been in the intensive therapeutic feeding center (ITFC) of Dolo Health Center for 17 days because Ibrahim was severely malnourished.


To read more about Zaynab and Ibrahim’s story and the stories of other Somali refugees in Ethiopia read the rest of the article here.


Photo:Ethiopia 2011 © Michael Tsegaye (Zaynab brought her son Ibrahim to the Hiloweyn ITFC to get treatment for his severe malnourishment.)

This mother and child—and this part of Mogadishu—show the toll of the overlapping political, security, and public health crises in Somalia, which have put an immense burden on women and children.

Years marked by conflict, drought, and a profound lack of governance culminated in a massive humanitarian crisis in the second half of 2011, to which MSF responded by expanding its programs in Somalia and for the huge numbers of Somali refugees who sought aid in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Photo: Somalia © Lynsey Addario/VII

This mother and child—and this part of Mogadishu—show the toll of the overlapping political, security, and public health crises in Somalia, which have put an immense burden on women and children.

Years marked by conflict, drought, and a profound lack of governance culminated in a massive humanitarian crisis in the second half of 2011, to which MSF responded by expanding its programs in Somalia and for the huge numbers of Somali refugees who sought aid in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Photo: Somalia © Lynsey Addario/VII

Refugee camps in Ethiopia are currently home to roughly 130,000 refugees from Somalia, the majority of whom have fled an ongoing food crisis and conflict. In recent weeks the number of people crossing the border into Ethiopia has increased to approximately 300 per day, up from 90 per day in September and October.

“At the moment, the capacity to receive more people and provide the necessary food, nutritional care, medical care, drinking water, sanitation and more, is grossly insufficient,” said Wojciech Asztabski, MSF project coordinator in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Read more

Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © Jenny Vaughn

Refugee camps in Ethiopia are currently home to roughly 130,000 refugees from Somalia, the majority of whom have fled an ongoing food crisis and conflict. In recent weeks the number of people crossing the border into Ethiopia has increased to approximately 300 per day, up from 90 per day in September and October.

“At the moment, the capacity to receive more people and provide the necessary food, nutritional care, medical care, drinking water, sanitation and more, is grossly insufficient,” said Wojciech Asztabski, MSF project coordinator in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Read more

Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © Jenny Vaughn

MSF staff tend to a Somali mother and her child in Liben, Ethiopia. The thousands of Somalis who have left for Ethiopia in the last few months have done so mainly to escape drought and famine. The terribly overcrowded conditions in camps heighten the risk of epidemics. With food, water, and sufficient sanitation in short supply, many of the children need care for persistent diarrhea and respiratory infections. 

Ethiopia: Thousands of Somalis Fleeing Famine And War Continue to Arrive

Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © MSF

MSF staff tend to a Somali mother and her child in Liben, Ethiopia. The thousands of Somalis who have left for Ethiopia in the last few months have done so mainly to escape drought and famine. The terribly overcrowded conditions in camps heighten the risk of epidemics. With food, water, and sufficient sanitation in short supply, many of the children need care for persistent diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Ethiopia: Thousands of Somalis Fleeing Famine And War Continue to Arrive

Photo: Ethiopia 2011 © MSF