Nigeria: Germany Boosts WHO's Strategies to Support Government-Led Interventions for Vulnerable Populations in the North-East

Maiduguri, 26 June, 2020 - "Sometimes I wonder what our lives would have become without the intervention of the humanitarian organizations," says Alhaji Umara Monguno, a 48-year-old farmer in Monguno Local Government Area, Borno state. In his five-acre beans farm recently, Alhaji Umara bares his mind on how humanitarian organizations have supported his family and indeed community. "The other day my wife took ill, we went to the clinic managed by one of the NGOs. She was treated at no financial cost. Just yesterday, it was my first son that sustained fatal injury as he was running away from insurgents. Today, I have been to the same clinic where I received medication for fever, all at no cost. I still wonder how we could have survived the impact of this insurgency without the humanitarian organizations."

Umara and his family are just one of the millions of beneficiaries of WHO's integrated health care services in north-east Nigeria, which is made possible by donors including the government of Germany.

Healthcare system in north-east Nigeria has been disrupted for over a decade due to insurgency. Most affected states are Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states where the health system is no longer able to cope with the upsurge of treatable ailments and the frequency of preventable disease outbreaks, typically linked with conflict contexts. Even functioning health facilities continue to be constrained by a shortage of human resources for health, breaks in the supply chain, poor referral networks and inadequate financing.

With recent funding support from the government of Germany, WHO is enabled to provide integrated healthcare services in hard-to-reach areas, nutrition services and integrated community case management of childhood diseases among other interventions.

Integrated healthcare services to populations in hard-to-reach areas

With the recent funding support from the Government of Germany, WHO will sustain the engagement of its mobile health teams in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states which are providing urgently needed healthcare services to affected populations in remote and hard-to-reach locations. The teams are the only healthcare providers for people in hard-to-reach areas in these states. Specifically, the teams serve as first responders to disease outbreaks including cholera and measles as well as coordinate surveillance, preparedness and response for outbreak prevention. Without WHO mobile health teams, populations in hard-to-reach areas, especially children and women will suffer needlessly from vaccine-preventable diseases, severe acute malnutrition (SAM), community-based HIV infections and other essential healthcare services that are not available or accessible.

Therapeutic and curative nutrition services

Recent nutrition assessments in north-east Nigeria indicate various degrees of malnutrition among under-five children and pregnant or lactating mothers. Generally, 2.7 million women and children in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States need nutrition support including 310 000 children who are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 250,000 who suffer from moderate acute malnutrition. With funding support from the government of Germany, WHO will continue to support stabilization centres with SAM kits for the treatment of SAM children with medical complications. Annually, WHO-supported teams conduct more than 3.1 million MUAC screenings for children between 6 and 59months in hard-to-reach areas including over 20 000 cases referred to the Outpatient Therapeutic Program (OTP).

Engagement of community resource persons

German funding supports WHO to provide home-based care for children with pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria among other minor illnesses that have a bearing on health and development. In north-east Nigeria, WHO trains and engages Community Resource Persons (CORPS) who provide timely home-based treatment of children in their localities. The engagement of caregivers enables access to care with more precision to better prevent and treat childhood illnesses.

"WHO very much welcomes the continuing support of Germany to help the vulnerable populations in north-east Nigeria," Emergency Manager, North-east Nigeria, Dr Collins Owili said. "The funds will be used to fill critical gaps in essential and life-saving interventions for conflict-affected populations and ensure the provision of enhanced access to essential quality health care services."

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