one of the largest international medical humanitarian organisations, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) has increased the capacity of its inpatient treatment facility for malnourished children to 565 beds to respond to an increasing influx of the patients in Katsina state.
The capacity is increased through the opening of80-bed Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) including 30 bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Dr. Yusha’u Armaya’u Maternal and Paediatric Health Facility in Kofar Sauri and the extension at Turai Ummaru YarAdua Maternity and Children Hospital in Katsina, the state capital.
Governor of Katsina State Aminu Bello Masari together with the MSF team inaugurated the new ward in a ceremony, also attended by the commissioner of health, royal fathers, volunteers, and others on Monday.
MSF teams have been witnessing an alarming rise in admissions of malnourished children in its facilities in Katsina since the start of the year. In June, the team had to quickly increase their inpatient capacity to 280 beds, but the influx of malnourished children was so significant both in outpatient and inpatient that restricted admission criteria had to be introduced for some outpatient treatment centres.
Between January and July, MSF teams in Katsina have admitted and treated over five thousand children suffering from severe malnutrition with complications under its inpatient programme while about 50 thousand children have so far been enrolled under the outpatient program with currently more than 20,000 children in the cohort for of follow up.
“We had to put in place temporary structures by way of extension at the Turai YarAdua Hospital to effectively manage and treat the increasing number of children suffering from malnutrition, and further expand the bed capacity at Kofar Sauri”, says Hassan Issa, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Katsina, Nigeria. “We are working in collaboration with the state government and our teams are ready to treat up to 100,000 malnourished children this year in our nutrition programme in Katsina state alone.”
Katsina is one of the chronically food-insecure states in Northwest Nigeria with a low level of coverage in terms of malnutrition case management. The state is going through escalating levels of violence and displacement has pushed many communities to their limits. In recent years, armed groups that are locally referred to as ‘bandits’ have intensified attacks, killings, kidnappings, lootings and sexual violence.
Many people cannot farm, cattle are stolen, and markets and trade are disrupted amidst soaring staple food prices – which remain above the five-year average in most Nigerian markets– in an already fragile health context.
“The lean season or hunger gap is approaching its peak, and the malaria transmission is further deteriorating the health and nutritional status with more severe cases admitted that need intensive medical care (blood transfusion, perfusion, NG tube to feed children, etc) in inpatients,” says Hassan Issa.
MSF teams support the treatment of malaria through tests and treatment for outpatients with about 800 treated since the beginning of July. MSF also continues to support Jibia IDPs with drug donations and in July about 500 consultations were done of which 70 percent were children under five years old.
“We have reached our maximum capacity, and the patients are still arriving in large numbers. We again strongly urge all other health and humanitarian actors to immediately take steps to address the alarming inflow of malnourished children.”
If the current humanitarian assistance lags far behind in northwest Nigeria, that’s partly because the UN has failed to include the region in its humanitarian response plan for the country for the current year, which primarily focuses on the critical situation in the northeast. As a result, many organisations are struggling to follow up on assessments and secure funding to implement lifesaving support in northwest Nigeria, despite the known acute needs.
Other than Katsina, MSF teams have been providing treatment to malnourished children in Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states. We are supporting 8 inpatient and 31 outpatient facilities across five states in the Northwest. In MSF-run or supported outpatient nutrition centres, almost 53,000 patients with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and about 25,000 patients with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) were admitted between January and the end of July 2022.