Why are we there?

  • Endemic/epidemic disease
  • Healthcare exclusion

Latest news

Ebola update

28th August 2014

Since the Ebola outbreak began in March in Guinea, it has claimed 1,427 lives. The outbreak has spread far beyond Guinea, and is now raging unabated. A total of four countries are now affected: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. 

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has started providing technical support to Nigerian health authorities. We are providing technical expertise in areas such as isolation, contact tracing, training and public education. Our assistance is designed to last over a month and is exclusively advisory.

The six person team is supporting the isolation ward set up at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), the referral centre for Ebola patients in Lagos.

FInd out more about MSF's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Our work

Background: 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

Health indicators for people living in northern Nigeria remain poor and there are frequent outbreaks of measles, meningitis and cholera.

An upsurge in violence in 2013 added to the difficulty of obtaining adequate healthcare.

Threats posed by Ansaru and Boko Haram are affecting security for Nigerians as well as aid organisations.

Where possible, teams from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continued to deliver specialist healthcare to vulnerable people and responded to outbreaks of disease.

Lead poisoning in Zamfara

The rising price of gold has led to renewed interest in mining in Zamfara state, where unsafe practices have resulted in a number of villages being contaminated with lead.

The gold deposits contain unusually high concentrations of the metal, and as the rocks are ground into sand highly contaminated dust fills the air.

Lead can enter the body through the lungs or digestive tract and is particularly harmful to children, potentially causing brain damage, kidney problems and death.

MSF teams screened more than 1,570 children in 2013 and provided some 10,800 basic health consultations for children under five.

Since the beginning of the project, 4,804 children have been screened and 4,306 treated.

MSF continues to lobby at federal government level to remediate the remaining villages – for example remove lead-contaminated soil and mining waste from villages, wells and ponds – and treat the children affected by lead poisoning who live there.

Ten-year-old Ibrahim at the gold processing site in Bagega. Ibrahim is one of 4,804 children screened for lead poisoning in Zamfara.

Providing maternity care and fistula surgery

Pregnant women in Jigawa state have limited access to maternity services, and deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth are high.

It is also estimated that between 400,000 and one million Nigerian women live with obstetric fistula, a consequence of birth complications that causes not only pain but incontinence, which in turn often results in social stigma.

MSF’s programme in Jahun hospital cares for women with obstetric emergencies and offers surgical repair of fistulas. More than 8,390 women were admitted to the obstetrics unit and 370 women underwent surgery for fistulas.

A maternal and child health programme continued in Goronyo, Sokoto state, where many people suffer from malaria. The project closed in June due to insecurity.

Women laugh during a health education session about malaria and how to use bed nets in Goronyo hospital.

Emergency care in Borno

The ongoing violence in the northeast caused population displacement to other states, including Abuja, and people also fled to countries such as Niger and Cameroon.

MSF provided medical care to 3,750 people in Baga and Chibok. The team ended the intervention, which lasted for 10 weeks, in October because of insecurity.

Measles and cholera

A measles outbreak spread through Katsina state in January and MSF donated medicine to 300 public health clinics, thus providing treatment for 14,290 people.

More than 217,490 children were vaccinated against measles in Bakori, Sabuwa, Funtua, Dandume and Faskari.

Between March and July a team responded to a measles outbreak in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, treating 47,585 people and donating 3,600 treatment kits.

Over 2,000 people received cholera treatment in Rini and Gusau between September and the end of December.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 649 staff in Nigeria. MSF has been working in the country since 1996.

Patient story

Rabi, 17-years-old, celebrates her discharge from the Jahun hospital fistula repair programme

"And what of that sick woman who arrived here many days ago? What of her that suffered many days with labour pains, only to see a stillborn baby, and after her wrapper cloth always wet?

"What of the way that her husband turned from her, repulsed by the leaking urine, what of her family who would no longer touch the food that she cooked? What of that chair, the one everyone avoided, the one she alone would sit on?

"That chair is no longer for me, because that woman is no longer me. I am now cured from my injury. With dry cloth around my hips, I am ready to return to my family. I sing because I am happy, I sing because I am free."

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