A photo blog of world events by Sacbee.com Assistant Director of Multimedia Tim Reese.
Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed
January 4, 2013
Traditions in Chad harm, kill underfed children

MOUSSORO, Chad (AP) -- On the day of their son's surgery, the family woke before dawn. They saddled their horses and set out across the 12-mile-long carpet of sand to the nearest town, where they hoped the reputed doctor would cure their frail, feverish baby.

The neighboring town, almost as poor and isolated as their own, hosts a foreign-run emergency clinic for malnourished children. But that's not where the family headed.

The doctor they chose treats patients behind a mud wall. His operating room is the sand lot that serves as his front yard. His operating table is a plastic mat lying on the dirt. His surgical tools include a screwdriver. And his remedy for malnourished children is the removal, without antiseptic or anesthesia, of their teeth and uvula.

That day, three other children were brought to the same traditional doctor, their parents paying up to $6 for a visit, or more than a week's earnings. Not even a mile away, the UNICEF-funded clinic by contrast admitted just one child for its free service, delivered by trained medical professionals.

The 4:1 ratio that you see in this sandy courtyard on just one day in just one town is a microcosm of what is happening all over Chad, and it helps to explain why, despite an enormous, international intervention, malnutrition continues to soar to scandalous levels throughout the Sahel.

(19 images)




chad_tradition_kills_01.jpg
Mothers feed their malnourished children at a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. In this Sahel nation, childhood malnutrition and related mortality persist at alarming rates, despite the fact that many affected families live within a day's journey of internationally-funded nutrition clinics. One reason is that families, bound by local custom, choose instead to seek traditional treatments, treatments which can lead to the very infections that kill their undernourished children. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_02.jpg
A woman stands alongside the fence that encloses her family's huts and yard, in a village in the Mao region of Chad on Oct. 31, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_03.jpg
Young women return from the wadi where the villagers water their animals, in Louri, in the Mao region of Chad on Nov. 2, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_04.jpg
A boy drives a donkey to pull water up from a well, in the wadi outside Louri village in the Mao region of Chad on Nov. 2, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_05.jpg
A camel herder puts down his animals for the night, alongside living huts in a village in the Mao region of Chad on Oct. 31, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_06.jpg
Muslim men participate in evening prayers in a village in the Mao region of Chad on Nov. 2, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_07.jpg
Muslim men gather outside a mosque ahead of evening prayers in a village in the Mao region of Chad on Nov. 2, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_08.jpg
Traditional healer Hakki Hassan poses for a picture in front of his home in Moussoro, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_09.jpg
Traditional healer Hakki Hassan displays the tools he uses to perform treatments which include cutting off the uvula and removing unerupted baby teeth, in Moussoro, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_10.jpg
Traditional healer Hakki Hassan cuts out the uvula and unerupted baby teeth of eight-month-old Moustafa Abdallah Lamine as a treatment for vomiting and diarrhea, in Moussoro, Chad on Nov. 5, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_11.jpg
Traditional healer Hakki Hassan uses a dirty blanket to wipe blood from the mouth of eight-month-old Moustafa Abdallah Lamine, after cutting out the boy's uvula and four unerupted baby teeth as a treatment for vomiting and diarrhea, in Moussoro, Chad on Nov. 5, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_12.jpg
Aicha Ismail, cradles her eight-month-old son, Moustafa Abdallah Lamine, just after his uvula and four unerupted baby teeth have been removed as a traditional treatment for vomiting and diarrhea, at the home of a healer in Moussoro, Chad on Nov. 5, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_13.jpg
A baby whose chest bears the scars of a traditional bloodletting treatment for sickly infants rests at a local malnutrition clinic, in Nokou in the Mao region of Chad on Oct. 31, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_14.jpg
Three-year-old Fatime Mahamat, suffering from severe malnutrition, rests in a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_15.jpg
Women tend to baby Zara Mahamat, who is being treated for malnutrition, at a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_16.jpg
Zara Seid holds her daughter Fatime Mahamat, 3, as she receives a shot as part of her treatment for severe malnutrition, in a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 4, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_17.jpg
Five-year-old Binti Mahamat, left, sits with her little sister Fatime, 3, whose mouth is stained purple from anti-fungal solution, as Fatime receives treatment for severe malnutrition, at a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 3, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_18.jpg
Zara Seid talks to her daughter Fatime Mahamat, 3, who is being treated for severe malnutrition at a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 3, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell
chad_tradition_kills_19.jpg
Mothers and other relatives of children receiving in-patient treatment for malnutrition, eat lunch off a shared plate at a nutritional health clinic run by Action Against Hunger with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad on Nov. 3, 2012. AP / Rebecca Blackwell

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.