Following the Need in Eastern Congo
Today we visited several IDP (Internally displaced people) camps near the town of Oicha in eastern Congo. Each camp was overflowing with hundreds of people who have been forced from their homes by intense rebel attacks. Most have escaped with only the clothes on their backs and many have lost relatives to the fighting as well as disease. There is very little shelter and even less food available within these camps. This was most evident among the youngest of the camps inhabitants. Many of the children showed signs of kwashiorkor or protein malnutrition. These children have not had enough protein in their diet and will likely continue to deteriorate unless they receive a specific type of intervention. There were also a few children with signs of marasmus which is the most serious type of malnutrition and comes from a general lack of total calories. This condition is often fatal unless these children receive help from a very specific nutritional program. One child who we evaluated today was only 5 months old. In her case, her mother was suffering from severe malnutrition which resulted in no breast milk production. There is no formula available so this young girl has slowly starved over the past few months since her mother was forced to flee her home. Without intervention, this child will not likely survive the next 1-2 weeks. Our nutritional program will address the needs of these children and others from one additional IDP area located about 15 miles further north of Oicha. We were unable to visit this area today because the fighting has intensified there. As the fighting wanes, we should be able to reach this group. We expect the need to be even greater there since they are closer to the ongoing conflict.
Matt Nowland- Senior Medical Director