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  • Endemic/epidemic disease
  • Health care exclusion

Nigeria: Latest MSF Updates

Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF-USA's 2013 Annual Report:

Health indicators for people living in northern Nigeria remain poor and there are frequent outbreaks of measles, meningitis, and cholera. 

An upsurge in violence in 2013 added to the difficulty of obtaining adequate health care. Threats posed by Ansaru and Boko Haram are affecting security for Nigerians as well as aid organizations.

Where possible, teams from MSF continued to deliver specialist health care to vulnerable people and responded to outbreaks of disease.




A consultation at the Aiyetoro health centre, Makoko, Lagos. © Silvia Fernàndez /MSF

Lead Poisoning in Zamfara

The rising price of gold has led to renewed interest in mining in Zamfara state, where unsafe practices have resulted in a number of villages being contaminated with lead. The gold deposits contain unusually high concentrations of the metal, and as the rocks are ground into sand highly contaminated dust fills the air. Lead can enter the body through the lungs or digestive tract and is particularly harmful to children, potentially causing brain damage, kidney problems, and death. MSF teams screened more than 1,570 children in 2013 and provided some 10,800 basic health consultations for children under five. Since the beginning of the project, 4,804 children have been screened and 4,306 treated. MSF continues to lobby at federal government level to remediate the remaining villages—for example remove lead-contaminated soil and mining waste from villages, wells, and ponds—and treat the children affected by lead poisoning who live there. 

Providing Maternity Care and Fistula Surgery

Pregnant women in Jigawa state have limited access to maternity services, and deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth are high. It is also estimated that between 400,000 and one million Nigerian women live with obstetric fistula, a consequence of birth complications that causes not only pain but incontinence, which in turn often results in social stigma. MSF’s program in Jahun hospital cares for women with obstetric emergencies and offers surgical repair of fistulas. More than 8,390 women were admitted to the obstetrics unit and 370 women underwent surgery for fistulas.

A maternal and child health program continued in Goronyo, Sokoto state, where many people suffer from malaria. The project closed in June due to insecurity.

Emergency Care in Borno

The ongoing violence in the northeast caused population displacement to other states, including Abuja, and people also fled to countries such as Niger and Cameroon. MSF provided medical care to 3,750 people in Baga and Chibok. The team ended the intervention, which lasted for 10 weeks, in October because of insecurity.

Measles and Cholera

A measles outbreak spread through Katsina state in January and MSF donated medicine to 300 public health clinics, thus providing treatment for 14,290 people. More than 217,490 children were vaccinated against measles in Bakori, Sabuwa, Funtua, Dandume, and Faskari.

Between March and July a team responded to a measles outbreak in Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states, treating 47,585 people and donating 3,600 treatment kits. Over 2,000 people received cholera treatment in Rini and Gusau between September and the end of December.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 649 staff in Nigeria. MSF first worked in the country in 1971.

Patient story

Rabi, 17 years old, celebrates her discharge from the Jahun hospital fistula repair program:

"And what of that sick woman who arrived here many days ago? What of her that suffered many days with labor pains, only to see a stillborn baby, and after her wrapper cloth always wet?

What of the way that her husband turned from her, repulsed by the leaking urine, what of her family who would no longer touch the food that she cooked? What of that chair, the one everyone avoided, the one she alone would sit on?

That chair is no longer for me, because that woman is no longer me. I am now cured from my injury. With dry cloth around my hips, I am ready to return to my family. I sing because I am happy, I sing because I am free."

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