Working with community leaders, MSF teams also identified neighborhoods with high concentrations of cases to set up oral rehydration points, where patients with milder symptoms could receive treatment.
In some states, a one-dose oral vaccine is available to help reduce the spread of the disease. However, global supply is limited and the vaccine is not available everywhere.
In the areas where MSF is responding, these and other efforts have made a difference. In Bauchi state, where MSF set up 19 oral rehydration points and a cholera treatment unit and carried out health promotion and hygiene activities, the mortality rate has been reduced by a factor of ten, from 5 percent to less than 0.5 percent, and the number of new patients being admitted for treatment continues to decline.
The trend of declining cases holds true for the country overall, with new cases in recent weeks falling to below 1,000 per week from a peak of 7,500. In many areas, this has brought a sense of relief for communities and medical teams alike.
“Thankfully, there has finally been a significant decline in the number of new cases in most areas,” says Dr. Tirima. Elsewhere in the country, however, the outbreak rages on. “Other areas continue to be affected and the response is not over yet,” he warns.
One of those areas is Borno state, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes by clashes between government forces and armed groups. Years of conflict and displacement have left people struggling to access clean water and sanitation. In the state capital, Maiduguri, the MSF team continues to treat nearly 200 patients per week for cholera and acute watery diarrhea.
In March 2021, MSF launched a cholera response in Gusua, in northwestern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, setting up a 30-bed cholera treatment unit (CTU), which closed in late-July. In May 2021, MSF set up three cholera treatment centers (CTCs) in Kano and Bauchi states: a 130-bed CTC in Kano and a 40-bed CTC in Tambaruwa, both in Kano state; and an 80-bed CTC in Bauchi state; all are now closed. As the epidemic continued to spread in August, MSF opened four more CTCs in Zamfara and Borno states: a 72-bed CTC in Anka, a 30-bed CTC in Shinkafi and a 68-bed CTC in Zurmi, all in Zamfara state; and a 40-bed CTC in Maiduguri, Borno state; these CTCs remain open. MSF also managed eight CTUs and 25 oral rehydration points across northern Nigeria; most of these are now closed.
MSF has been working in Nigeria since 1996.