MSF calls for greater political will and commitment towards Bihar’s malnourished children
Patna/New Delhi, August 24, 2015: After a successful collaboration with the State Health Society in Bihar, the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is handing over its Nutrition and Kala Azar programmes to the State government. While MSF has completely handed over its Nutrition programme to Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital and State Health Society, Bihar, it willcontinue to maintain a partial presence in Hajipur’s Sadar Hospital in Vaishali District, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of HIV-Kala azar coinfected patients.
While commending the State government’s commitment towards elimination of both malnutrition and Kala Azar from Bihar, MSFbelieves that such pro activeness can set up an excellent example in overcoming significant public health challenges in the country. “Our collaboration on eliminating Kala Azar has been admirable and we could not have treated over 12,000 Kala Azar patients and made an impact on national treatment protocol if not for State government’s political will and commitment. Just like eliminating Kala Azar is firmly on the cards today, treatment of severe acute malnutrition needs to be brought under the spotlight too. Only then can the community benefit from MSF’s facility such as the MICU. With this handover, we are hopeful that the State Health Society will commit itself to treating Bihar’s malnourished children,” said Dr Prince Mathew, Deputy Country Director, MSF.
In September 2014, the first-line treatment for Kala Azar in India was changed to a single dose of Liposomal Amphotericin B (LAmB). The policy was changed following crucial safety evidence from an MSF-Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) pilot study. The change to single dose LAmB setsa milestone towards achieving the elimination of Kala Azar in line with the national2015 elimination goal. Since the roll-out of the newly available treatement by the national government as per the new treatment protocol, MSF has been extending its support to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), and the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute (RMRI) thereby contributing to improving the health status of at-risk populations in India.
Simultaneously, MSF has been working in Darbhanga district since 2009 providing curative treatment to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). In close collaboration with State Health Society, MSF worked with the medical staff in Darbhanga’s 11 primary health centres to ensure proximity and continuity of care to SAM children and has admitted more than 17,000 SAM patients, aged six months to five years, in its community-based treatment programme in the district. Among the patients admitted, close to 90 per cent were less than two years old, 87 per cent belonged to the poorest and most vulnerable castes and more than 60 per cent were female. The organisation also set up the country’s first Malnutrition Intensive Care Unit (MICU), which has played a pivotal role in bringing down the malnutrition rates Darbhanga district.
With an estimated 8.1 million under-5-years-old SAM children (NFHS-3) in India, MSF calls upon state authorities to implement and scale up community-based management initiatives integrated within the public health system in order to save more lives and reduce the burden of acute malnutrition in India.
MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare in around 70 countries. MSF offers assistance to people based only on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.
MSF received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 1996 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
About MSF in India
MSF has been working in India since 1999, providing free-of-charge essential healthcare in the states of Bihar, Manipur, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
For more information, contact:
Pujya Pascal, Advocacy Coordinator, MSF
Phone: +91.99109 44506
Kritika Kamthan, Medical Press Officer, MSF
Phone: +91 7042727630
- Fact sheet on Kala Azar and MSF’s key achievement in Vaishali.
- Fact sheet on Severe Acute Malnutrition and MSF’s key achievements in Darbhanga.
- Bihar Closure in Hindi