“Tens of thousands of people uprooted or trapped by conflict in northern Mali are going without enough food, leading to a spike in cases of children suffering from malnutrition, medical aid groups say,” AlertNet reports. “The situation in northern Mali is also being compounded by a wider food and nutrition crisis across the Sahel region of West Africa, where the United Nations estimates that 18 million people are facing hunger due to a combination of drought, failed crops, insect swarms, and high food prices,” the news service writes. “Aid workers warn that living conditions in Mali’s troubled north will worsen unless security improves, enabling better access for humanitarian groups, and donors provide more funding for relief operations,” AlertNet notes, adding that charity groups working in the region say mothers and children are being affected most by malnutrition (Fominyen, 6/28).
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
“Fighting global hunger has traditionally been a bipartisan effort that has united administrations and congresses without regard to party. The Farm Bill developed by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee continues that trend,” Dan Glickman, former U.S. agriculture secretary, and Richard Leach, president and CEO of World Food Program USA, write in a Politico opinion piece. They say the bill “provides more flexibility to draw on food aid stocks” when the U.S. responds to natural disasters or conflict situations; “increases efficiency by reducing costs linked with monetization — the practice of selling U.S. food aid commodities on foreign markets to generate cash for development programs”; “promotes enhanced nutrition, increasing the nutritional quality of food aid”; and “fosters greater coordination among U.S. programs and agencies,” allowing for short-term food aid responses to be linked with longer-term development objectives. The authors conclude, “Though additional steps still need to be taken to comprehensively address hunger, this Farm Bill enhances U.S. leadership in the fight against hunger and makes an important statement about Americaâ€™s values” (6/14).
“The top United Nations relief official said [.pdf] today that humanitarian efforts to alleviate the devastating food crisis affecting Mali have begun to yield results, but warned that much still remains to be done and the situation could worsen without continued donor support,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/30). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “on Thursday called for more resources in Mali to save children from severe malnutrition,” Agence France-Presse reports. The widespread food crisis in the Sahel region is compounded in Mali by a militant insurgency in the north of the country, according to the news agency. “The food crisis, which follows a drought in 2011, has affected 4.6 million people in Mali alone,” and “[a]lmost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition … this year,” the news agency writes (8/30).
Haiti has “reported new cases of cholera as aftermath of the tropical storm Isaac, but Public Health Ministry General Director Guirlene Raymond said that “so far the numbers do not match outbreak ratings,” Prensa Latina reports (8/30). “Donald Francis, in charge of the disease in the ministry [of health], said that there is a stability in the incidence of the disease in Haiti,” Bernama/NNN writes, adding, “According to official statistics, as of early July the number of cholera deaths since its appearance in October 2010 had risen to 7,418” (8/30).
This Lancet editorial reflects on a medical crisis in Syria, highlighting a new report (.pdf) by Amnesty International that “documents the human rights abuses already occurring in the city.” The editorial states, “A disturbing feature of modern conflicts and, indeed, the Arab uprisings, has been the flagrant disregard for the Geneva Conventions, including targeting of civilians, persecution of health workers, and attacks on hospitals, alongside the failure of the U.N. system to prevent these violations,” and it highlights several examples cited in the report.
SciDev.Net reports on how mobile phone text messages are aiding in the health response to flooding in the Philippines. “Officials from the country’s department of health (DOH), which was responsible for developing the ‘Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters’ (SPEED) system, … say that the new system has already significantly reduced response times to medical emergencies, such as the potential outbreak of fatal diseases in evacuation centers, hospitals and other health facilities,” the news service writes, adding, “SPEED enables health officials and workers to use mobile phone text messages to send in reports on communicable and non-communicable health conditions, and to monitor health trends.”
“The United States announced Thursday it would hike its humanitarian aid to Syria, adding another $12 million to provide food, water, medicine and other necessities for battered and displaced people” affected by violence in the Syrian conflict, the Los Angeles Times blog “World Now” reports. “The increase approved by the Obama administration brings American humanitarian assistance in Syria to more than $76 million, including $27.5 million to the World Food Programme [WFP], roughly $18 million for the United Nations refugee agency and the rest split among other U.N. funds and non-profit groups,” the blog writes (Alpert, 8/2).
Communal Violence In India Forces Up To 400,000 Into Overcrowded Camps Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine
“Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India’s northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeing some of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” AlertNet reports. Up to 400,000 people have fled to government-run camps in Assam state, the news service notes, adding Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are in a state of high alert. … People in the camps are suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women.” According to AlertNet, “Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.” The news service notes that at least 12 people have died, including four children (Bhalla, 8/6).
“Children in a refugee camp in South Sudan are dying at more than twice the rate internationally recognized as an emergency, according to new figures [.pdf] released by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” the Guardian reports. “On an average day in the Yusuf Batil camp â€¦ three or four children under the age of five will die,” but, “[i]n a ‘normal’ emergency situation, the number would be one or two deaths daily for every 10,000 children,” the news service writes. “The overall mortality rate, which takes into account adults and older children, is also substantially above the emergency threshold,” according to the Guardian, which adds, “About 58 percent of the camp’s reported deaths have been children under five, while more than 25 percent have been people over 50” (Copnall, 8/20).
“Some 2.5 million people face destitution in Syria as fighting grows ever more intense in populated areas, the United Nations top relief official said [Thursday], calling on the Government and donors to facilitate more aid through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the ground,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos “reported that over a million people have been uprooted and face destitution, and that perhaps a million more have urgent humanitarian needs due to the widening impact of the crisis on the economy and people’s livelihoods,” the news service writes (8/16). “‘Their needs for health care, shelter, food, water and sanitation are growing,’ Amos said,” according to Reuters. “The U.N. and its partners are reaching more people with emergency aid every month. But we are only meeting some of the needs,” she added, the news service notes (8/16).