Understanding the origin of bilateral oedema – Stories of children living in Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo

Giulia Scarpa

School of Earth and Environment, Faculty of Environment

PGR Placement

Giulia will conduct and analyse in-depth interviews at Epicentre, Paris, or by WebEx platform, with health professionals of different specialities (~20) coming back from DRC and Mali having worked with Doctors without Borders. Additionally, she will deliver training to research assistants working in DRC and Mali in order to interview around 20 mothers with children suffering from malnutrition. The aim of the interviews is to explore perceptions and thoughts regarding bilateral oedema diagnosis and treatment, but also to investigate societal and familiar background of sick children through focus groups within mothers and community members. The analysis of those results would help in addressing policies according to children and family needs as well as improving training for health professionals.

Oedema is a sign of different health conditions. The differential diagnosis amongst nutritional oedema and oedema of different origins is not straightforward, thus the treatment may be inappropriate. In some contexts such as in DRC and Mali, the percentages of cases with oedema are much higher than usual (>30% hospitalised malnourished patients), and nutritional oedema is associated with higher mortality rate. For this reason, a better diagnosis and treatment method would reduce mortality and morbidity, and improve children’s quality of life.