By Julius N. Uma
August 21, 2012 (JUBA) - An average of at least three to four Sudanese children, under the age of five, have been dying daily at Batil refugee camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, as a result of Diarrhoea and Malnutrition, according to a nutritional and retrospective mortality survey conducted by the international medical charity - Medicine sans Frontier (MSF).
- A humanitarian worker attends to a malnourished child in Pibor county, Jonglei state, February 02, 2012 (ST)
The survey, MSF officials told Sudan Tribune, was carried out within the camp from 25 to 30 July. MSF described mortality rates for the total population as being “substantially” above the emergency threshold, deaths among children under five has reportedly more than doubled the emergency threshold.
Technically, the organization says, the data is 1.75 per 10,000 per day for the total population, and 4.2 per 10,000 per day specifically for children under five, comparing to emergency thresholds of 1 and 2 per 10,000 per day respectively.
Helen Patterson, MSF’s medical coordinator for Batil camp has already described the situation as a health “catastrophe”.
“This new data reflects exactly what I see every day,” said Patterson, adding that renewed efforts were underway to logistically get staff and supplies in order to continue saving lives at the camp.
However, whereas children under five reportedly accounted for more than half or 58% of deaths in the camp since the refugees’ arrival, MSF say death among older people also makes up more than 25%.
“In many emergency interventions children under five are the first priority, but to see this level of mortality in over-fifties is unexpected and indicates a very vulnerable and weak population indeed,” it observed.
Diarrhoea, the survey indicates, reportedly accounts for more than 90% of the deaths in the refugee camp, with malnutrition seen as a likely contributory factor in many of the death cases recorded.
At least 28% of the children under five in Batil, according to MSF’s nutritional and retrospective mortality survey, are malnourished, with 10% reportedly facing severe malnutrition, which requires urgent therapeutic feeding.
In addition, nearly 44% of the children under the age of two, it says, are malnourished, with 18% of them reportedly in the most severe, potentially life-threatening stage of the disease.
Also depicted in the survey, according to MSF, is the unexpected rise in respiratory tract infections, which reportedly constituted around one in ten consultations the refugee settlement in June. Last week, more than four in ten consultations were reported in Batil.
Meanwhile, the organizations says it has 180 and 800 expatriates and locally recruited staff on the ground in the five refugee camps, which host thousands of Sudanese refugees in South Sudan. The refugees fled fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states of Sudan.