Saturday, March 08, 2008

Doctors Without Borders in Darfur

An email letter from Darin Portnoy, MDMSF USA Board President:

As I treated their son in a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Zalingei, Darfur, one family told me how they had watched their three-year-old son grow increasingly ill, developing severe acute malnutrition. They had to leave the relative safety of their home and travel through the conflict-ridden countryside in a desperate attempt to save their son's life.

Thanks to your support, they were able to find help at a Doctors Without Borders medical center and the little boy received the care he urgently needed. This family's story illustrates the human impact of the deterioration in security and nutrition in Darfur, where more than two million internally displaced people (IDP) are living in an extremely unstable environment.

When I arrived to work each morning at the hospital's emergency department, where I was on an assignment with Doctors Without Borders, there was always a line of people waiting to be seen. It was as intense a working situation as I have ever been in, with up to 25 or 30 admissions in an eight-hour period, which is a heavy volume for any emergency room. In Zalingei our medical teams run the hospital's emergency department, pediatrics unit, and therapeutic feeding center. We responded to a wide variety of ailments such as malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, diarrheal disease, and malnutrition.

We found a growing number of children with severe acute malnutrition throughout the second half of last year. The number of severely malnourished children admitted between July and September 2007 tripled compared to the same period in 2006. To deal with this increase, we reinforced the capacity of our inpatient department. We also opened nutrition programs in Halamedia and Tayba, two IDP camps in Zalingei. In Halamedia camp we received 400 malnourished children in the first week of operation. Eight weeks later, 1,300 children suffering from malnutrition were receiving care in our program.

Doctors Without Borders' projects are vital to the survival of thousands of people in Darfur, Sudan. Your gift will help us save lives in Darfur and in nearly 60 countries around the world. Please support our programs today.

Darin Portnoy, MDMSF USA Board President

P.S. Right now our teams are providing emergency medical aid to people all over the world who have no other access to care. Please help us save more lives today.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 60 countries. New York Office: 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001

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