Friday, September 24, 2021

Tragedy continues in Tigray

  Famine-like conditions exist in the Tigray region. The crisis is driving residents to beg for food

During the past two months, the main hospital in Mekelle has received 60 children with severe acute malnutrition. Of those 60, six have died, according to Dr Abrha Gebregzabher, a paediatrician supervising the treatment of malnourished children at Ayder hospital.

According to the United Nations, more than 400,000 people are facing famine-like conditions and 1.8 million are on the brink of famine across Tigray. The region of some six million people remains under a “de facto humanitarian blockade”, the UN said earlier this month, warning of a “looming catastrophe” and urging all warring sides to allow and facilitate the unimpeded passage of aid.

The September 2 statement by Grant Leaity, the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, said a minimum of 100 trucks of food, non-food items and fuel must enter the region every day – but access has been extremely difficult. “Stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel are running very low or are completely depleted. Food stocks already ran out on 20 August,” it added. Separately, the World Food Programme said last week that, since July 12, 445 contracted non-agency trucks have entered Tigray, but only 38 have returned, calling their disappearance “the primary impediment” to stepping up humanitarian response.

 In Ayder hospital basic medical supplies and medicines are also running out. 

“We are struggling to continue with extremely limited resources. We are struggling to provide food to patients,” said Dr Sentayhu Mesgana, the hospital’s deputy medical head. “We have suspended further diagnosis due to electric interruptions and lack of spare parts. By now, the hospital is only providing basic services.”

According to Dr Sentayhu, health centres across Tigray are unable to send patients to the referral hospital due to a lack of fuel affecting ambulance services.

“We don’t know how many people are dying across the region from malnutrition. We are disconnected with the health centres due to the telecommunications blackout. We could only know about patients who managed to arrive here. Only a few can make it,” said Dr Sentayhu. “We cannot do adult nutritional support to the general public which is very costly and ineffective given the dire situation we are in.”

With medical supplies running out, Dr Abrha, the paediatrician looking after malnourished children, feared the worst is yet to come.

“The stock of therapeutic milk will run out in three weeks given there are no new cases,” Dr Abrha said. “That means we will suspend the treatments after three weeks.”

No comments: