Ongoing conflict in Nigeria has killed thousands and displaced millions of people

A doctor tends to a patient at MSF’s nutrition center in Fori, Nigeria.
NIGERIA 2017 © Sylvain Cherkaoui/Cosmos
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Conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian armed forces has resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 1.7 million people. Hundreds of thousands more fled to neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides lifesaving medical care in northeastern Nigeria, the center of much of the conflict. Elsewhere, our teams provide more routine care, from obstetrics and vaccinations to emergency assistance.

treated for cholera, 2017
consultations in northeastern Nigeria
treated for malnutrition in Borno & Yobe

Responding to armed conflict in the northeast

MSF has scaled up its assistance in Nigeria's Borno state over the past two years, but access to areas held by armed opposition groups, or contested by the two sides, has been restricted, and little is known about the needs of people in these locations.

MSF teams in Borno and Yobe run pediatric nutrition programs, vaccination campaigns, and general consultations, and provide services to support emergency rooms, maternity and pediatric wards, and other inpatient departments. Staff also manage mental health activities; monitor food, water, and shelter needs; and respond to disease outbreaks.

Although the nutrition situation has generally stabilized in Maiduguri, Borno state's capital, due to a massive deployment of aid, vulnerable pockets still remain. In some enclaves controlled by the military, people are unable to farm or fish due to restrictions on their movements, making them heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance.

In 2017, in the northeast of Nigeria, MSF conducted more than 400,000 outpatient consultations. Over 9,000 deliveries were assisted by MSF teams, almost double the total number of assisted deliveries last year. Teams also vaccinated children against measles, pneumococcal pneumonia, and other preventable diseases.

Tackling outbreaks of disease

In response to a meningitis outbreak, MSF deployed teams to support the Ministry of Health in the worst-affected areas—Sokoto, Zamfara, Yobe and Katsina states—with medical supplies, training, and assistance with case identification and management. In Sokoto, MSF ran a 200-bed facility. Teams assisted in a vaccination campaign that reached more than 278,000 people in Sokoto and Yobe.

MSF continues to run epidemic surveillance and monitoring for epidemic-prone diseases such as meningitis, measles, cholera, and Lassa fever. From August to November 2017, MSF responded to a cholera outbreak in Maiduguri, Monguno, and Mafa, operating three cholera treatment centers and a cholera treatment unit. More than 4,000 patients were treated for cholera in Nigeria in 2017.

MSF also intervened to assist Cameroonian refugees in Cross River state, carrying out water and sanitation activities.

Providing health care for women and children

MSF runs the maternity and neonatal departments of Jahun general hospital, Jigawa state. A high proportion of the 1,000 women admitted per month in 2017 suffered from obstetric complications such as eclampsia. In 2017 MSF treated 325 women for vesico-vaginal fistula, a condition resulting from prolonged obstructed labor that requires complex surgery. To reduce pregnancy complications, teams also support basic obstetrics in health centers.

In Sokoto, MSF continues to support the reconstructive surgery project in the Noma Children's Hospital for patients with noma and other conditions. As well as surgery, the team provides pre- and post-operative care and mental health support. A total of 301 surgeries were performed on 243 noma patients in 2017.

In Rivers state, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, MSF opened a second clinic in Port Harcourt offering comprehensive care to victims of sexual violence. Outreach and community-based awareness activities were also organised in schools, police stations and through the media.