Hungry, thirsty – and ill at that

by Katja Weber/RBU,  2011/08/15

For weeks, the newspapers have been reporting about the large-scale drought at the Horn of Africa. About a drought that causes people and animals to die of thirst and hunger.

The Turkana have not been eating regularly for months, they are reduced to skeletons. Photo: humedica/Joshua Ogola

Last Wednesday, humedica and the partner organisation AMREF travelled to Turkana in northern Kenya for the second time. When operating a mobile hospital, it became clear that many people get ill in addition to – or precisely because of – the drought.

AMREF is the “African Medical Research Foundation”, better known as Africa’s flying doctors. They dispose of a fleet of small airplanes which allow them to reach also difficult-to- access areas in order to provide people there with basic medical care.

Usually, the doctors and nurses stay for a period of one or two weeks during which they vaccinate children, examine all kinds of different disease patterns and - if necessary - refer patients to the nearest hospital.

This time, two days before the departure of the plane, a truck set out with a load of five tons of food that had been transported to Kenya by the humedica relief flight. Plane and Truck arrived at Kaikoko at about the same time.

Kaikoko is located at about 50 kilometres from the northern-most point of Lake Turkana. Too far away for profiting from the lake water - which is salty in any case. People are struggling with the lack of drinking water and with hunger. All of them, both children and adults and in particular the elderly, are alarmingly thin.

And then there are diseases that occur more frequently than usual due to the lack of water. For example, many children and adults suffer from eye infections they contract because they continuously touch their eyes with dirty fingers. Or gastrointestinal diseases that wear out the already weak even further.

An undernourished child is fed infant food in the framework of the mobile hospital. Photo: humedica/Joshua Ogola

The ready-prepared infant food, the millet gruel, the milk powder and the high-caloric drinking solution for young persons and adults were more than welcome in Kaikoko. About 1,500 adults and 500 children will benefit from it.

Examinations by the medical staff of AMREF revealed which of the patients suffered from malnutrition and which product was suited best to help them.

During visits with the local families over the next few weeks, trained voluntary workers will make sure that for example the infant milk powder is mixed and fed correctly. And after also the food supplies will have been distributed and used up, they will leave again:

AMREF works with the people to develop measures that are intended to improve the situation in the long term. For example they implement hygiene training workshops, work on expanding medical care and on improving the water infrastructure.

Please do not stop to make donations for enabling such relief measures in the first place. Thank you very much!

humedica e.V.
       Donation reference “Famine relief Africa”
       Account 47 47
       Bank Code 734 500 00
     Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support our relief measures at the Horn of Africa by means of an online donation or by sending a text message: send the reference DOC to 8 11 90 and make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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