Nigeria: MSF Scales Up Activities as Cholera Outbreak Continues to Spread Across Borno State

Nitin George/MSF

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, SEPTEMBER 18, 2017—As new cases of cholera emerge in Monguno, Dikwa, and Maiduguri, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to scale up its response in Borno state, including recently opening an additional cholera treatment unit (CTU) near Muna Garage camp.

Since the start of the outbreak in June, 2,627 cholera cases and 48 deaths have been reported by the Borno State Ministry of Health. The state capital of Maiduguri alone has witnessed 1,425 cases, while 600 cases have been reported in Dikwa and 602 cases have been reported in Monguno. Since August 16, 491 patients have been admitted and 475 have been discharged from MSF’s CTU in Dala.

“Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to tackling cholera outbreaks,” said Anna Cillers, MSF medical coordinator. “As cases increased in Maiduguri, we rapidly added more beds to our cholera treatment center in Dala, where we now have 100 beds.”

Inside Muna Garage camp, which hosts about 20,000 people who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram, MSF already operates an oral rehydration point where patients can obtain sugar and salt solution to help them overcome severe dehydration. Patients arriving here in critical condition are taken directly to cholera treatment centers via ambulance.

As authorities and humanitarian actors tackle the outbreak in Maiduguri, numbers of cholera cases have been increasing in Monguno and Dikwa, towns to the east of the capital. Monguno is home to about 200,000 people, two-thirds of whom are people who have fled other parts of the state and now live in official and unofficial camps. Dikwa, a military controlled enclave, is home to approximately 120,000 people, including 100,000 who are internally displaced.

“In Monguno, we adapted our existing medical facility to isolate patients with suspected cholera, and are currently operating a 110-bed cholera treatment center,” said Dr. Félix Kouassi, MSF medical coordinator. “We are worried that the number of beds currently planned may not be enough as cases continue to rise in the town.”

MSF is closely coordinating its efforts with the Borno Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other humanitarian organizations in the prevention and treatment of cholera, including providing training for their health workers.

"Our facilities operate 24 hours a day, and are free of charge,” Kouassi said. People with symptoms of cholera—acute watery diarrhea or three or more loose stools per day, and dehydration—should seek treatment immediately. “We remain alert and, through our community health workers, continue to monitor the spread of the outbreak, and respond to it across Borno state.”

MSF is also responding to cholera outbreaks in eastern Chad near the Sudanese border, in multiple locations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and throughout Yemen.

Read: MSF Scales Up Efforts to Contain Cholera Outbreak in Maiduguri

MSF provides nutrition, primary and secondary healthcare, medical aid in disease outbreaks, and operates across 11 locations in Borno State. The new CTU in Muna has a 50-bed capacity that can be increased to 100 beds, if needed.