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Insecurity in northern Nigeria is growing, and with it comes the likelihood of increased violence, displacement and deteriorating health services.

Health services are already inadequate in this region. The response to outbreaks of disease is insufficient, nutritional crises are frequent, and many women continue to give birth without any medical assistance.

In Jigawa state, Médecins Sans Frontières has been providing obstetric services at Jahun hospital since 2008, and close to 6,800 women gave birth there in 2012. Another 284 women underwent fistula repair surgery. Obstetric fistulas are injuries to the birth canal, and are most often a result of prolonged, obstructed labour. They cause incontinence, which can lead to stigma and social exclusion.

Further west, a team supports health centres in and around the town of Goronyo, Sokoto state. Staff offer basic healthcare, maternal care, paediatric services, vaccinations and treatment for malnutrition. They carried out more than 70,000 paediatric consultations and 28,500 antenatal consultations over the year.

The emergency team covering the northwest of the country responded to outbreaks of malaria, measles and cholera, treating tens of thousands of patients.

A team has been treating children for lead poisoning in Zamfara state since 2010. Unsafe gold mining and ore processing practices have led to the contamination of a number of villages, and an estimated 400 children have died. Médecins Sans Frontières has treated 2,500 children for poisoning so far, but patients will need long-term follow-up.

Without environmental clean-up, treatment is ineffective, because the children will only become sick again when they return home. Médecins Sans Frontières hosted a conference on the crisis in May, but six months later, none of the key action points agreed upon at the conference had been put into effect. In early 2013, following sustained advocacy by Médecins Sans Frontières and other organisations, funds were finally released to allow for remediation of one of the contaminated villages, which will mean that medical treatment can begin for affected residents. However, the crisis will not be fully resolved without a complete clean-up and the implementation of safer mining practices.

Médecins Sans Frontières first worked in Nigeria in 1971

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Médecins Sans Frontières is rapidly scaling up its operations in Liberia as the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to be chaotic and entirely inadequate.

Category: Field news

Nigeria: responding to a measles outbreak


Since the end of 2012, Katsina State in northern Nigeria has experienced a measles outbreak, which has just ended after lasting 28 weeks. Médecins Sans Frontières supported the authorities by providing epidemiological...

Category: Field news

Médecins Sans Frontières finally able to start treating lead poisoned children in Bagega, Nigeria


Médecins Sans Frontières has finally been able to start medical treatment for children suffering from lead poisoning in the village of Bagega. In the first of four groups to receive medical care, Médecins Sans Frontières has...

Category: Press releases

A Month in Focus: March 2013


A short monthly update on the medical humanitarian activities that Médecins Sans Frontières teams are conducting around the world.

Category: Video gallery

Bagega: Remediation work has begun, must be completed before rainy season


Abuja, Nigeria –Médecins Sans Frontières is encouraged by news that funds to remediate Bagega village, an essential part of the fight against the Zamfara lead poisoning crisis, have finally been released, and work has begun in...

Category: Press releases
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