Three children to a bed
At Anka general hospital, where Amina brought her son Husseini some months ago, MSF runs a 135-bed paediatric ward.
Most of the children here are being treated for malaria, malnutrition and respiratory tracts infections, while others need intensive care. Because the hospital is running at full capacity, children often have to share beds. During peak season for malaria, there are sometimes three children to a bed. With family members often sleeping at the hospital too, it can get very noisy and crowded.
At the hospital, Husseini received therapeutic food and was eventually strong enough to be discharged. However, feeding the two babies is still a challenge, says Amina.
“I don’t have enough breastmilk for both children,” she says. “The doctors gave me medicine to help me with the breastmilk, but it’s not working. Now I buy formula milk, which is very expensive.”
As well as malaria, having too little to eat is an increasing health risk for children in the area. From January to September 2019, our teams in Anka treated 7,445 children for malnutrition.
“The high number of children we treat for malnutrition in Anka has worrying implications for the situation in the rest of Zamfara state,” says MSF’s Dr Valerie Weiss, who supervises the high dependency unit.
“With such high numbers here in Anka, we also have to expect many cases of malnutrition in areas where we cannot go due to security concerns.”