Constant Threat of Hunger and Disease in Ethiopia

from Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres

More than 10 percent of children do not survive their first year of life in Ethiopia. Scarce farmland in the overpopulated arid highlands leaves an estimated 5 million of Ethiopia's 69 million people to face chronic food shortages. Severe droughts in 1999 and 2001 compounded the situation. While some recent rains have provided a little respite, the lack of substantial rainfall since early 2003 has led to the deaths of an estimated 50 percent of livestock. To address this persistent food insecurity, the government is in the process of a multi-year effort to voluntarily resettle more than 2 million people to the country's more fertile lowlands. Actual assistance in the program has fallen short of government promises, while resettlement has proven deadly for some communities by exposing people to malaria-endemic regions for the first time. Ethiopian doctors struggle with few resources to fight infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and Kala Azar for which treatment is expensive and often inaccessible. Malaria has become particularly deadly because drug resistance has rendered the most common anti-malarial treatment practically useless. The government has changed its national malaria protocol to use the more effective artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), but international supplies of ACT are facing a huge shortfall. Ethiopia is considered an important partner in the US-led "war on terror," and the US military has carried out some assistance activities alongside its intelligence and training missions in regions bordering Somalia. MSF has already warned against a possible confusion between soldiers trying to win "hearts and minds" and humanitarian aid workers providing needs-based assistance, and raised concerns that the security of its teams could deteriorate.

Read more about Ethiopia here – http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/ethiopia.cfm.

Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org – is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries.

 

 

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