Médecins Sans Frontières has been working in Borno State, Nigeria providing healthcare to people displaced by violence linked to the conflict between the Boko Haram armed group and the Nigerian Army, as well as the host community in and around the capital Maiduguri since mid-2014. Logistician Eric Boon worked as part of the team operating the Mobile Clinic, which was established early this year.
“Basically, the clinic was a truck loaded up with some tents and crowd control equipment, tables, chairs, a couple of examination tables and some water receptacles and so forth. We had a team of clinicians, nurses and pharmacists and each day they would jump into a mini bus and a mini van with all but one seat removed and a stretcher installed to act as an ambulance. They would spend three days at the site consulting, examining, prescribing, vaccinating and dispensing.
“Some of the most prevalent morbidities were directly hygiene-related such as conjunctivitis and skin conditions. Other health issues for women and children could also be linked indirectly to a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities”
A very important function of the clinic was to screen children for malnutrition. Where a child was found with severe acute malnutrition, they would be put into the ambulance and referred to one of our inpatient clinics for intensive therapeutic feeding using fortified milk supplements, such as F75 and F100. These are milk powders which contain vital micronutrients the child needs to survive. Mixed with clean water they can be administered in small amounts to malnourished infants. Less life-threatening cases would be offered other therapeutic methods such as feeding with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) made of peanut based paste with minerals for a limited period or some other supplementary nutritional food strategy.
Can you imagine trying to keep your kids (or yourself for that matter) clean in conditions like these? Some of the most prevalent morbidities were directly hygiene-related such as. conjunctivitis and skin conditions. Other health issues for women and children could also be linked indirectly to a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities.