Letter to the editor: Public health issues in a therapeutic feeding center-problems encountered and lessons learned

  • Tedbabe Degefie
  • Fitsum Aseffa


The town of Gode, in somali region of Ethiopia was considered the epicenter of the drought and attracted sustained media attention and resources since April 2000. Between January and June 2000, the population was reported to swell from 15,000 to 40,000 with consequent stress on food, water, and sanitation and health facilities. Different assessments at the initial stage estimated a global malnutrition rate of over 50% with 10% severe malnutrition. Although accurate mortality was difficult to determine with changing population denominators and differing methodologies, based on a retrospective mortality survey childhood mortality rates were persistently high between December 1999 on July 2000 (3.4/10000/day and 9.8/1000/day respectively). Outbreaks like measles and bloody diarrhea were important contributory factors to the high mortality. A cluster survey conducted in August showed over half (51%) of the deaths were caused primarily by diarrheal diseases (35%) and measles (16%). By drawing on our experience, this letter attempts to identify mechanisms and processes that have both facilitated and constrained success in the treatment of severely malnourished during the recent emergency in Gode, Somali region. (Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 2001, 15(1): 51)

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