Key medical figures: 

  • 145,100 outpatient consultations
  • 6,780 births assisted
  • 4,470 surgical procedures

Insecurity in northern Nigeria is growing, and with it comes the likelihood of increased violence, displacement and deteriorating health services.

Health services are already inadequate in this region. The response to outbreaks of disease is insufficient, nutritional crises are frequent, and many women continue to give birth without any medical assistance.

In Jigawa state, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing obstetric services at Jahun hospital since 2008, and close to 6,800 women gave birth there in 2012. Another 284 women underwent fistula repair surgery. Obstetric fistulas are injuries to the birth canal, and are most often a result of prolonged, obstructed labour. They cause incontinence, which can lead to stigma and social exclusion.

Further west, a team supports health centres in and around the town of Goronyo, Sokoto state. Staff offer basic healthcare, maternal care, paediatric services, vaccinations and treatment for malnutrition. They carried out more than 70,000 paediatric consultations and 28,500 antenatal consultations over the year.

The emergency team covering the northwest of the country responded to outbreaks of malaria, measles and cholera, treating tens of thousands of patients.

Villages destroyed by flooding

Heavy rains, and the opening of the dam on Lake Lagdo in neighbouring Cameroon, led to major flooding in eastern Nigeria in August. MSF set up mobile clinics to provide basic and emergency healthcare to people affected by the disaster, particularly young children and pregnant women. Hygiene kits were distributed to the displaced. As malaria rates rose, MSF also donated mosquito nets.

Lead poisoning response

A team has been treating children for lead poisoning in Zamfara state since 2010. Unsafe gold mining and ore processing practices have led to the contamination of a number of villages, and an estimated 400 children have died. MSF has treated 2,500 children for poisoning so far, but patients will need long-term follow-up.

Without environmental clean-up, treatment is ineffective, because the children will only become sick again when they return home. MSF hosted a conference on the crisis in May, but six months later, none of the key action points agreed upon at the conference had been put into effect. In early 2013, following sustained advocacy by MSF and other organisations, funds were finally released to allow for remediation of one of the contaminated villages, which will mean that medical treatment can begin for affected residents. However, the crisis will not be fully resolved without a complete clean-up and the implementation of safer mining practices.

Trauma programme closed

Political tensions in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have eased and MSF therefore closed the trauma programme it had been running in a private hospital in Port Harcourt since 2005. The last patient was admitted in October. The team carried out 9,000 emergency consultations and treated 500 victims of sexual violence during the year.

Clinics in Lagos

Health facilities are scarce in the slums of Lagos. Since 2010, MSF’s clinics in Badia and Makoko have been providing free emergency care, as well as basic health services and maternal care. The floating clinic in Riverine, on the lagoon, was the first place to offer free medical services in the area. More than 19,200 people attended medical consultations through the programme. MSF withdrew at the end of 2012, and the Ministry of Health has agreed to maintain essential services.

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.

No. staff end 2012: 971

Year MSF first worked in the country: 1971

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