With an estimated population of 183.5 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.
MSF in Nigeria 2014
Nigeria also has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Petroleum and oil resources play a large role in the Nigerian economy. The country is the sixth largest producer of petroleum in the world; it is the eight largest exporter and has the tenth largest proven reserves.
However, the security situation deteriorated in many areas of Nigeria in 2014. Violence and displacement took their toll on people’s health and reduced their access to medical services.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Nigeria in 1971. Our response to the Biafra conflict and ensuing famine was, in fact, the first official MSF mission after our founding.
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."
Dr Abubakr Bakri spent three years in Nigeria as MSF's country manager. Here, he speaks of the Boko Haram crisis currently gripping the northeast of the country.
MSF’s work in Nigeria: 2014
With the security situation deteriorating in Nigeria in 2014, MSF continued to try and provide healthcare to communities in need, but some clinics experienced temporary closures due to insecurity.
Healthcare for displaced people
Political instability, numerous attacks by Boko Haram and security operations by the Nigerian army forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Up to 400,000 internally displaced people settled in and around Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno state, with host families or in camps that were set up in July.
To help, we:
- Held 10,000 consultations to screen for malnutrition, and offered antenatal care to pregnant women
- Cared for 6,833 people suffering from cholera after an outbreak in Maiduguri.
At Jahun hospital, Jigawa state, where maternal mortality rates have been among the highest in the country, we continued to support an emergency obstetrics programme:
- 7,980 women were admitted and more than 5,700 births were assisted
- 264 women benefited from fistula surgery
From the Noma Children's Hospital in Sokoto, MSF provided care to children suffering from noma, a rapid-onset gangrene infection that causes facial disfigurement. It is most common in children under the age of six. Nutritional and psychological support was offered and corrective surgery is planned for 2015. Without medical treatment, noma has a mortality rate of around 90 percent.
- Psychosocial counsellors carried out 90 group sessions and 12 individual consultations
- 50 children were admitted to hospital for treatment.
Teams also continued to treat children with lead poisoning in eight villages in Zamfara state. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, kidney problems and even death.
As patient numbers decreased over the year, MSF closed three outreach clinics but continued to lobby the Nigerian government to assist local villagers. Staff also screened children for measles, meningitis and yellow fever, treated over 3,560 for malaria and carried out more than 7,680 outpatient consultations.
Responding to disease outbreaks
The MSF-run Nigeria Emergency Response Unit (NERU) provides early warning and rapid response to seasonal outbreaks of infectious diseases in the northwestern states of Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger.
- From June to December, NERU treated over 6,000 people for cholera in the northwest of Nigeria
- 330 people were also treated for meningitis in Aliero.
MSF provided Ebola-related technical support to health authorities in Lagos and Port Harcourt from July to October, assisting with isolation and contact tracing, and providing training and public education.
Find out more in our 2014 International Activity Report.
At the end of 2014, MSF had 508 staff in Nigeria. MSF has been working in the country since 1996.