1 September 2017

Nigeria: MSF Scales Up Efforts to Contain Cholera Outbreak in Maiduguri

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN
A man washes his hands during cholera prevention session (file photo).
press release

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is scaling up treatment and prevention to curb the spread of cholera in Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria.

MSF has established a 40-bed Cholera Treatment Unit in Dala village, which has so far admitted 70 patients, set up an Oral Rehydration Point in Muna camp, and has a team of 14 Community Health Workers who are helping to find new cases and trace community members who may have come into contact with affected patients. Additionally, MSF is training state health and World Health Organization (WHO) workers in prevention and control methods.

"MSF has rapidly been responding to the cholera outbreak in Maiduguri," said Anne-Cécile Niard, MSF project coordinator. "We set up a Cholera Treatment Unit in Dala earlier this year in anticipation of a potential outbreak. Since last weekend, we have witnessed a steady increase in the number of patients at our treatment center and at the rehydration point in Muna camp for displaced people. We are in the process of expanding the capacity of our treatment center in Dala to 50 beds and are exploring the possibility of opening another treatment center close to the most affected areas. We are worried that the number of beds that are currently planned will not be enough to cope at the peak of the outbreak."

The majority of cholera patients come from Muna Garage, a camp for people who have fled other parts of the state due to the ongoing conflict between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram. Following heavy rains, the camp is partly flooded, making the already poor sanitary conditions even worse, which is an additional risk factor during a cholera outbreak.

"With early diagnosis and treatment, people have a very good chance of survival; 37 patients have already been discharged from our treatment center in Dala," said Anna Cillers, MSF medical coordinator. "If people are worried that they have cholera, they should drink oral rehydration solution and seek treatment as quickly as possible. However, to contain the spread of cholera in Maiduguri, the need for a coordinated response from state health authorities and the other responders to this outbreak cannot be overstated."

MSF is responding in coordination with the Ministry of Health and other organizations to make sure that affected households are sprayed with chlorine solution and that soap and water purifying tablets are distributed in Muna Camp.

Since 2014, MSF has been providing nutrition, primary and secondary health care, medical aid during disease outbreaks, and monitoring access to food, clean water, and shelter across 11 locations in Borno State.

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