November 30, 2023
Dr Paul Mushombe Nibhumba: Testimonial from Doctors of the World Medical Coordinator in Mali
Mali, a land-locked country in West Africa, has been struggling with ongoing conflict and climate crisis. With social indicators among the lowest in the world, the country ranks 184 out of 189 on UNDP’s 2019 Human Development Index. Since 2012, the conflict has affected millions of civilians, with the violence further escalating since 2018. Two coups d’etat also took place in 2020 and 2021 further destabilizing the area.
The culmination of which has triggered mass displacement, socio-political instability, climate shocks, epidemics and unprecedented levels of food and nutrition insecurity. About 1.5 million people have fled their homes since 2012, some of them several times. As a result of the country’s instability, access to healthcare has been severely disrupted, especially in more rural areas. More than 85% of the country’s population lives over 5 kilometers away from the nearest health facility. In hard to reach communities this has led to a rise in the prevalence of severe malaria and other common diseases that would be otherwise easily prevented.
The humanitarian situation in northern Mali is marked by a climate of conflict, food insecurity, extreme poverty and global warming. As a result of armed clashes, thousands of people are moving to other, safer areas. Doctors of the World has been working in Mali for twenty years, supporting health structures to improve access to free healthcare for people affected by the crises in the north of the country. Below are some of the programs that we are currently running in the country.
Due to a lack of significant health infrastructure, standard medical procedures in Mali often become increasingly risky. Childbirth in particular is a dangerous process, with high mortality rates for both mothers and newborns.
In response, our teams conduct pre and post natal consultations, and provide training to midwives. Without the help of our dedicated team on the ground in Ménaka and Gao, thousands of mothers and newborns would be without access to basic healthcare. In 2021, 2,420 clean delivery kits were distributed to pregnant women and 9291 pregnant women received their first ANC consultation.
Northern Mali has also experienced multiple food crises in the last 10 years. Close to 20 million people across multiple countries in the region are believed to have experienced food insecurity, leading to rising levels of malnutrition.
To respond to this issue, our teams have implemented malnutrition screening sessions for pregnant women and children at multiple health centers. When a patient is considered malnourished, they are immediately directed to a healthcare facility that can provide them with treatment. At some of the supported facilities, our team also provides monthly nutritional monitoring. In 2021, 90,741 children aged 6 to 59 months have received nutritional screening. Furthermore, Doctors of the World has worked with community health workers to launch workshops for mothers about Infant and Young Child Feeding, as well as Key Family Practices.