The security situation deteriorated in many areas of Nigeria in 2014. Violence and displacement took their toll on people’s health and reduced their access to medical services.
Médecins Sans Frontières continued to try and provide healthcare to communities in need, but some clinics experienced temporary closures due to insecurity.
Healthcare for the displaced
Political instability, numerous attacks by Boko Haram and security operations by the Nigerian army forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Up to 400,000 internally displaced people settled in and around Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno state, with host families or in camps that were set up in July. Medical supplies and physicians remain extremely limited.
In August, Médecins Sans Frontières began providing care to displaced people in two of the largest camps. Weekly mobile clinics screened for malnutrition and offered antenatal care to pregnant women. By the end of the year, 10,000 consultations had been carried out across the camps. A health surveillance system was also established to respond to disease outbreaks and launch vaccination campaigns, if necessary.
There was a cholera outbreak at the end of September and in the space of a month 4,500 cases and 70 deaths from cholera were reported in Maiduguri. Médecins Sans Frontières set up a cholera treatment centre with 120 beds and five posts for oral rehydration. By December, Médecins Sans Frontières had supported the care of 6,833 patients, 40 per cent of whom were displaced people living in camps.
Focus on obstetrics
At Jahun hospital, Jigawa state, where maternal mortality rates have been among the highest in the country, Médecins Sans Frontières continued to support the emergency obstetrics programme, which admitted a total of 7,980 women, an 11 per cent increase over 2013. More than 5,700 births were assisted. ‘Kangaroo care’, a technique in which women spend time holding their babies skin to skin, was implemented after more space was created in the new neonatal unit.
Jahun hospital also treats fistula, with Médecins Sans Frontières support. Obstetric fistulas are injuries to the birth canal, usually caused by complicated or prolonged labour and resulting in pain, incontinence and often social stigma. Médecins Sans Frontières offers reparative surgery, as well as psychosocial support, helping women to reintegrate into their communities. A total of 264 women benefited from fistula surgery in 2014.
From the Noma Children Hospital in Sokoto, Médecins Sans Frontières provided care to children suffering from noma, a rapid-onset gangrene infection that causes facial disfigurement. It is most common in children under the age of six. Psychosocial counsellors carried out 90 group sessions and 12 individual consultations, and 50 children were admitted to hospital for treatment. Nutritional and psychological support was offered and corrective surgery is planned for 2015. Approximately 140,000 new cases are reported each year, predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Teams also continued to treat children with lead poisoning in eight villages in Zamfara state. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, kidney problems and even death. Staff also screened children for measles, meningitis and yellow fever, treated over 3,560 for malaria and carried out more than 7,680 outpatient consultations.
Médecins Sans Frontières first worked in the country in: 1971
No. staff: 649
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