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Today in Famine: Infectious Disease Situation Really, Really Dire

The health situation in the drought and famine affected regions in the Horn of Africa is really bad–and getting worse.  All of the health statistics are tending in a negative direction. Measles, Malaria, and Cholera are becoming more and more prevalent among drought refugees and people stuck in famine and drought affected regions.

The number of suspected measles cases has increased progressively in recent weeks.  Un vaccinated children are being uprooted from their homes and forced to live in cramped refugee camps–the perfect condition for a contagion like measles.  In drought affected parts of Kenya, the WHO says that measles is the single greatest health threat.

This measles outbreak is one of several reasons why mortality rates for children under five years old in the region are astronomically high.  According to the World Health Organization report, the Dolo Ado camps  of Ethiopia are experiencing an under 5 Mortality Rate of 14.9/10,000/day. To put that in context, the under 5 child mortality rate in Ethiopia is 10.4/10,000. (In the USA it’s 0.78/10,000.)

Cholera is also becoming a problem that is getting progressively worse.

And Malaria:



It’s important to keep in mind that lack of food is only part of the problem. The drought and famine have caused massive displacement. That, in turn, is presenting a whole new set of health challenges.


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