MSF has been responding to disease outbreaks and emergency health needs in Nigeria for many years, focusing on maternal and paediatric healthcare throughout the country and scaling up our activities in the northeast as vast numbers of people caught up in the conflict depend on aid to survive.
Thousands have been killed in fighting and many more by malnutrition, measles and malaria. People are unable to farm or sell their goods, and mass displacement has resulted in catastrophic living conditions. Despite the insecurity and challenges in accessing many areas,we have teams in Borno and Yobe providing healthcare and responding to emergencies in fixed and mobile facilities. Our teams distribute food, run therapeutic feeding centres and tackle disease outbreaks. Watch our explainer on the crisis in the North East.
The World Health Organization estimates that 58,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth every year in Nigeria, and one in eight children dies before the age of five (Nigeria: Demographic and Health Survey 2013). We run the maternity and neonatal departments of Jahun general hospital, Jigawa state, and support basic obstetrics in health centres to reduce complications during pregnancy.
We run mass vaccination campaigns across the country against diseases such as measles, meningitis and pneumococcal pneumonia. Our teams also provide seasonal malaria chemoprevention. In 2017, MSF responded to Nigeria’s largest meningitis C outbreak in 10 years. Over 4,000 people were also treated for cholera following an outbreak in Maiduguri, Monguno and Mafa.
We support the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto with specialised surgical care for patients with noma and other conditions that require reconstructive surgery. Most patients with noma - a disfiguring and often deadly infection - are children under six, whose immune systems have been weakened by malnutrition. As well as surgery, we support pre- and post-operative medical and mental care, community outreach activities, and active case finding in the region.
Noma, a neglected disease
We run a programme for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. It includes preventive treatment for sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraception, counselling and psychosocial support.
We have been responding to lead poisoning in children in Zamfara state since the epidemic was discovered in 2010. Following a similar outbreak in Niger state in 2015, we have set up safer mining projects in both areas, working with miners to reduce their exposure to toxic lead and off-site contamination.