Our team has been working in the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, for over a year. Doctor Jacqueline Hupfer is one of those who has been there from the start. Together with her four teammates, she works on the children’s ward of the Banadir Hospital. Even today, a year after the beginning of the severe drought, a lot of patients are still malnourished.
Ten-year-old Ibrahim, who comes from the port area of Mogadishu, was in a very bad way when he arrived about a month ago, weighing just 20 kilos. When he was examined, it was found that he was suffering from a disease that it is very rare here: visceral leishmaniasis, also known as black fever, which had attacked his internal organs. The boy’s immune system was weakened and his liver and spleen were greatly enlarged. “Although there are some regions in Somalia where this disease is common, it is regarded by the WHO as a neglected disease which is seen particularly in poorer people in developing countries,” explains Jacqueline Hupfer. “Here in the Banadir Hospital, we have between five and ten patients a year with the disease, so we have experience with it.”
Ibrahim is now being treated by the Cap Anamur doctor and the local doctor and head of paediatrics, Dr Lul. He had to receive several blood transfusions and is still so weak he can hardly stand up by himself. However, with the daily intravenous medication to combat his infection, he is slowly improving. “The medication has a lot of side effects, but luckily, the boy is tolerating it well,” says the 38-year-old doctor. “The treatment will still take some more weeks and while it continues, we’ll keep a close eye on him. A few days ago, his father wanted to take him to a traditional healer. He was probably getting impatient because he couldn’t see any improvement. With the support of Dr Lul, we managed to convince him to leave his son in the hospital with us. It was worth it: today, Ibrahim was sitting up in bed and smiling, and he even managed to get up by himself for a little while.”