A Vicious Cycle in Sahel: Malaria and Malnutrition


Photo: In the Madaoua and Bouza districts of Niger, there were an average of seven deaths for every 10,000 children every day last year. More than half of the deaths were due to malaria. © Juan-Carlos Tomasi

A Vicious Cycle in Sahel

Malaria and malnutrition are closely related. This is played out dramatically in Africa’s Sahel region during the “hunger gap” months. Food stocks run low and new crops are not ready for harvest, so malnutrition is at its peak; meanwhile, the rainy season, when mosquitoes breed, is in full swing. The diseases combine in a vicious circle: malnourished children with weak immune systems can’t fight diseases including malaria; children sick with malaria are more likely to become dangerously malnourished.


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