Niger kicks out aid worker over ‘false’ malaria toll

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MSF staff vaccinates a baby against measles at a clinic in Magaria district. Photo MSF
MSF staff vaccinates a baby against measles at a clinic in Magaria district. Photo MSF

An employee of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was kicked out of Niger on Wednesday, accused of exaggerating the death toll from a malaria epidemic in the south of the West African country.

A video by Anne Pittet, an MSF podiatrist, said 10 children were dying each day in the southern town of Magaria from malaria or malnutrition.

Health Minister Idi Illiassou, who talked to AFP in Magaria, said “everything (Pittet) said was false.”

MSF said on September 25 that its paediatric teams were “fighting alarming death rates among children under five”, totalling around 10 deaths a day over the previous 20 days.

The Niger government’s malaria expert Hadiza Djermakoye strongly denied the MSF figures, saying in a statement that from January to mid-September the town had recorded 67 malaria deaths.

Djermakoye said nationwide there had been 1 360 000 cases of malaria, with 1 584 deaths through mid-September.

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