Yemen: Treatment of malaria and the consequences of a collapsed health system

Mercredi 24 janvier 2018 — While the suspected diphtheria cases and the cholera outbreak have been the centre of attention in recent months, malaria continues to affect thousands of Yemenis, especially in the most vulnerable areas like the Osman valley in Amran governorate. In October and November 2017, MSF ran an intervention to treat patients and put prevention measures in place.

“Malaria is endemic in some areas of Yemen like the valleys of the Amran governorate. Most deaths from the disease can be linked to a lack of early diagnosis and treatment due to poor access to healthcare and a lack of preventive measures”, explains Caroline Seguin, MSF Programme Manager for Yemen.

In previous years, the Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) responded to increasing malaria cases by providing treatment (stocking health centres with medication) and vector control (distributing mosquito nets and spraying insecticide). However, because of the conflict and the collapse of the health system, MoPHP can’t maintain the same level of response and the situation is deteriorating.

In 2017, MSF alone treated more than 10,000 patients for malaria. Out of 3,225 consultations conducted last Autumn, 654 (more than 20%) tested positive for malaria. MSF’s intervention included three different stages: mosquito net distribution, the donation of essential treatment and training, testing and treating malaria cases.

In the scope of this intervention, MSF also organised a malnutrition screening for children under five, as well as pregnant and lactating women. More than 1,200 children were screened, with very high rates of severe and moderate acute malnutrition detected (7.5% and 40% respectively). “These rates, though alarming, can’t be considered a representative sample of the nutritional status of all children in the area, as the screened children were all sick. Still, it shows a worrying underlying nutritional situation in the area”, confirmed Ms Seguin.

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To learn more about malaria: http://www.msf.org/en/diseases/malaria