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MSF in Nigeria, 2006
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HIV/AIDS is a massive problem in Africa's most populous country. Many people in urgent need of treatment for AIDS and related illnesses find that the medical attention they need is unaffordable or unavailable.
Photo © David Levene
In Lagos, MSF has established a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program, providing care to more than 1500 people infected with HIV. Over 1000 patients are receiving the antiretroviral (ARV) medicines they need at General Hospital Lagos. MSF and civil society groups advocate for access to free treatment and actively promote the use of lower cost, generic ARVs to help expand this treatment. Whilst progress has been made to increase the availability of first-generation ARV medicines, access to newer, field-adapted AIDS drugs is an ongoing challenge. Research in the Lagos project has shown an acute and growing need for affordable secondline medications — the newer AIDS drug formulations for patients who develop resistance to a first combination of medicines and must change their treatment. In 2005/2006, MSF, treatment advocates and civil society groups publicly urged pharmaceutical companies to make these AIDS drug formulations immediately available to patients in Nigeria and other developing countries, achieving some success with initial shipments of the heat-stable, secondline drug lopinavir/ritonavir to Nigeria in July 2006.
Multiple health emergencies
In response to a nutritional crisis in several areas of northern Nigeria, MSF in mid-2005 conducted emergency interventions in Borno, Katsina and Sokoto states and treated more than 15,000 severely malnourished children at three stabilisation centers and dozens of outpatient therapeutic feeding sites. Mobile teams travelled to remote communities to provide nutritional education, healthcare and high caloric food supplements for children not requiring hospitalization. MSF also conducted over 14,000 paediatric consultations, and treated many of these children for malaria. By the end of the year, fewer and fewer children were admitted for treatment, and MSF closed down or handed over projects to local health authorities between January and March 2006.
When a cholera outbreak occurred in northern Borno state in October 2005, MSF set up a treatment site and cared for more than 1300 patients within two months. MSF also responded to a meningitis outbreak in Jigawa state from April to June 2006. MSF strengthened case management in three hospitals, directly treated 527 patients, and conducted a vaccination campaign in four local governmental areas from May to mid-June, vaccinating nearly 150,000 people.
The southern oil-rich Niger Delta region is the site of regular, violent clashes between various groups struggling for oil and in October 2005, MSF opened a surgical program for trauma victims in Port Harcourt. From January to May 2006, MSF staff performed 471 operations and admitted 561 emergency patients. More than a quarter of the emergencies treated in May were for violence-related injuries such as gunshot wounds, stabbings, beatings, rape, and domestic violence.
Malaria project closed
In November 2005, MSF ended its malaria project in Bayelsa state, also located in the Delta region. Local authorities were not willing to improve health facilities and medical staffing, making it difficult for MSF to implement artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in this malaria-prone region. While quinine is still of use, MSF has proven that ACT is the most effective treatment for malaria.
MSF has worked in Nigeria since 1996.