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MSF in Nigeria, 2010
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Ethnic and religious tensions flared again both in the north and the south of Nigeria in 2010. Health services continued to suffer from a lack of resources.
Emergency response teams
An MSF emergency response unit based in Sokoto, in the northwest of the country, provided rapid assistance for disease outbreaks, natural disasters, violent crises and population displacements in four states. The team intervened after flooding in Sokoto state, distributing relief items and basic medical care to thousands of displaced families. The team also treated patients after outbreaks of measles, meningitis and cholera. In the states of Katsina, Bauchi and Borno, MSF teams treated 9,481 patients for cholera between August and November.
In central Nigeria, emergency teams responded to cholera and measles outbreaks in Kaduna and Plateau states: staff vaccinated more than 15,600 children in Kaduna and treated some 2,600 patients for measles. Teams offered assistance after violence in the city of Jos, providing medicines and medical supplies to the main health facilities.
Lagos has a population of around 18 million, and in such a large city the needs of vulnerable people are often neglected. In July 2010 MSF began working at Aiyetoro health centre in the slum area of Makoko, providing general and reproductive healthcare, and emergency care. Malaria, respiratory infections and chronic diseases were the most common illnesses suffered by patients. Using the centre as a base, MSF is extending its work via mobile clinics. The first began work in Otto in October 2010. In early 2011 a mobile clinic will serve the Badia and Riverine lagoon areas.
Maternal and child health
The lack of access to healthcare in northern Nigeria has a heavy impact on women and children. In Sokoto state, a mobile medical team supports the Goronyo health centre and surrounding villages. The team provides general healthcare, including obstetric and paediatric care, and runs a feeding programme. In 2010, a prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme was launched at Goronyo for pregnant women with HIV.
In Jigawa state, 402 women underwent fistula repair surgery. MSF’s centre in Jahun, which opened in 2008, also offers comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care. Such care can prevent fistula, which are injuries to the birth canal often caused by long labour without a midwife or the option of a caesarean section. Many women with obstetric fistula have to live with unpleasant and debilitating symptoms, including incontinence, which can result in social exclusion. More and more women are now coming to the hospital to give birth: there were 3,649 deliveries in the maternity ward in 2010, more than double the number in 2009.
A team working from Kazaure hospital, also in Jigawa state, started providing care for severely malnourished children in June following a regional nutrition crisis. More than 6,600 children received treatment at the feeding centre and 1,700 were hospitalised.
Violence remained a problem in the Niger Delta. The team operating the 75-bed trauma centre in Teme hospital, Port Harcourt, was one of the first to use internal fixation to repair fractures. This technique allows patients to walk again within just a few weeks, in contrast to the old traction system, which requires months. In 2010, MSF staff treated 10,850 people in the emergency department, 42 per cent of whom had violence-related injuries. Overall, more than 2,000 patients were admitted to the trauma centre, and more than 3,500 surgical interventions were carried out. MSF also treated 645 victims of sexual violence, providing medical care and counselling.
Handover in Bayelsa
Since 2008, MSF has been running a health centre in Ogbia district, Bayelsa state, in the Niger Delta. In the first few months of 2010, MSF held 4,700 consultations and vaccinated 5,400 children after an outbreak of measles. Local and national authorities took over the project in April 2010.
Small-scale gold mining was directly related to severe lead poisoning in seven villages in Zamfara state, in the northwest of the country. Villagers were crushing and drying lead-containing ore in and close to their homes. At the request of the Ministry of Health, MSF treated more than 400 children for lead poisoning in two care centres, and staff worked with villagers to raise awareness of the risks of gold mining. The damage is considered one of the worst recorded heavy metal contaminations in the world.