- Title: NIGER: Malaria cases in children in the Maradi region increase after heavy rains.
- Date: 5th September 2012
- Summary: VIEW OF VILLAGE
- Embargoed: 20th September 2012 13:00
- Location: Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Environment,Health
- Reuters ID: LVAF2D9DI46RSHMD9BM2M66PBZV2
- Story Text: An unusually heavy rainy season, that caused extensive flooding in Niger recently has seen cases of malaria go up in parts of the country, healthworkers say.
At the Guidan Roumji hospital, in the Maradi Region of south central Niger, hundreds of women and children line up outside the hospital to receive medical care, while many others have been admitted to the pediatric ward, with severe cases of malaria.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Niger is battling with widespread hunger and malnutrition, as the country's food crisis was exacerbated by the severe rains.
Healthcare officials at this hospital say they are overwhelmed by the increased number of children being admitted at the facility, straining the few resources available at the hospital.
"We record at least four to five deaths every day, and sometimes more, because the children arrive in a bad state and it's too late for us to do anything," said nurse Marie Issaka.
To help ease the case load, medical aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has stepped in to help co-ordinate treatment and distribution of basic food, especially for malnourished children who are at high risk of death.
"We have a lot of children coming here suffering from malaria. We have to put three children on each bed in the pediatric unit. But on top of that, we get more children who are malnourished, so we are admitting more children in the malnutrition unit as well. So at the moment we are overwhelmed by the numbers, but our teams are doing the best they can," said Evelyne Devaud, MSF field coordinator in Niger.
Failed rains last year left Niger and neighbouring Sahel countries, including war-torn Mali, with a food emergency. U.K.-based aid group Oxfam estimates 18 million people in the region will be impacted by the food crisis this season.
Niger, a uranium-producing nation that straddles the south of the Sahara, saw street protests against the cost of living during the 2007/08 food price spike.
In some of the country's major markets, 100 kg of millet now costs 30,000 CFA francs ($55.61), up from 25,000 CFA the month before and 19,000 at the same time last year.
Many residents of Guidan Roumji say they are not expecting things to improve this year.
"This season has been bad for us. Worms have devastated all the fields. We have had too much rain to harvest peanuts. Now, we only have millet grains. We roast them to get something to eat," said Soueba Chaibou, a Guidan Roumji resident.
Miagari Djari, is the chief nurse at Guida Roumdji hospital.
"We cannot dissociate malaria from poverty, the two go hand in hand. People are poor. As I told you, the season has been bad, people are just fighting to find something to eat to survive. They are not trying to protect themselves," he said.
According to aid agencies, around two million people in Niger are now suffering from hunger, with the next harvest only a month away.
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