The update from this week included the first medically-verified assessment of starvation-related mortality in Tigray since the signing of the Pretoria Agreement, which is summarized below. In addition to the assessment, the ECC reported that:
- Only 2,522 children under five were admitted for treatment with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in August, which means that the nutritional response is now functioning at around 22% of the reach achieved when the food suspension was first implemented in March.
- Supplementary feeding for acute malnutrition is only available in 56 locations in Tigray.
- A nutrition SMART+ survey has been conducted and is currently undergoing validation.
- 457,700 people were assisted with 15kg of wheat in the Northwestern and Southern zones, there have also, reportedly, been smaller distributions at IDP sites in Central zone, Mekelle, and the Southern zone.
Assessment and verification of starvation suspected deaths in selected districts of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia
This study was carried out by the Tigray Health Research Institute, the Tigray Bureau of Health, and Mekelle University, College of Health Science. Teams of specially trained medical professionals recorded deaths occurring after the Pretoria Peace Agreement in nine woredas and IDP populations of five towns of Tigray between August 15-29, 2023. The teams collected relevant information about the deaths and conducted verbal autopsies with family members for all deaths of individuals above the age of 1 month who died of causes other than accidents and injuries. Cause of death was ascertained by a panel of three physicians who each made individual determinations of the immediate and underlying cause of death based on data collected through the verbal autopsies. Final diagnoses were consensus based and considered medically verified.
The study team reported 2,694 total deaths since the Pretoria Agreement from all causes in nine woredas (districts) and 53 IDP centers in five towns (Maichew, Mekelle, Abi Addi, Adigrat, and Shire.) They excluded accidental deaths and babies under a month old and conducted verbal autopsies of 1,945 deaths. Of the 1,945 verbal autopsies conducted, the panel of physicians determined that starvation was the cause of 1,329 deaths. The lowest number of deaths since November occurred in March 2023, when the food suspension began, and increased each month thereafter. The number of deaths recorded in July (305) was the highest of all months. Less than 7% of deaths occurred at a medical center and nine of every ten deaths occurred at home. More than 71% of the deceased only consumed one meal a day in the month prior to their deaths and in 89% of cases, families reported that the deceased did not have enough food to satisfy their hunger in the month prior to their death. Starvation was the predominant cause of death across all age groups and accounted for 60% (94/155) of IDP deaths and 49% (1,235/2,539) of host community deaths. It is important to note that the study was not able to determine if the 98 neonate deaths recorded (babies under one month old) died of hunger or not.
Assessment teams also collected data to determine the household hunger scale. They found that more than 60% were facing severe (7.3%) or moderate (53%) hunger. This is a significant increase from 36% facing serve or moderate hunger during the war and 3.3% prior to the war.
Summary done by Duke Burbridge