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MSF in Nigeria, 2004
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Malaria is the main cause of death among very young children living in the Niger Delta. The mosquitoes that spread the parasites causing the disease breed in the region's wetlands. In isolated and swampy parts of southern Bayelsa State, MSF teams provide basic health care at three health centers covering a population of more than 50,000 people. The care includes artemisinin- based combination therapy (ACT), the most effective treatment now available for malaria. Team members educate local residents about ways to prevent malaria and to improve basic hygiene. This project is MSF's first using ACT in Nigeria, and the organization believes it will play an important role in promoting the country-wide introduction of this treatment.
An estimated 300,000 of the 12 million people who live in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, are thought to be living with HIV/ AIDS. Most of them have no way of getting treatment for related illnesses. MSF staff are caring for HIV-positive patients at Lagos General Hospital and have improved the hospital's laboratory and pharmacy, rehabilitated a special treatment department, and started a voluntary counseling and testing center. Patients receive care for opportunistic infections that can develop when the HIV virus undermines the immune system and can also receive psychological counseling. The team will start treating patients with life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) drugs during the second half of 2004.
With no fewer than 350 ethnic groups, Nigerian society is extremely complex. Incidents of violence rooted in ethnic, religious or socio-economic differences occur frequently. After clashes and a massacre took place in May between rival groups in Yelwa, Plateau State, MSF assisted thousands of destitute, displaced people who had fled to neighboring Bauchi and Nasawara States. MSF mobile teams began providing basic medical and psychological care to displaced people living in a number of makeshift camps in the area. They also improved water and sanitary conditions to improve the camps' difficult conditions.
MSF has worked in Nigeria since 1996.