One month ago, new cases of cholera began to appear in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State, where more than 1.6 million displaced persons are being sheltered.
Over a three-week period, the disease spread to the city’s two other IDP sites. By September 16, 172 cholera cases and 16 deaths had been recorded.
MSF providing emergency response to stop the spread
In cooperation with the Borno State health authorities, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working with displaced populations in Maiduguri since May 2014, is providing emergency medical and logistical services to fight the epidemic. From September 10-15, 187 patients, 64 per cent of them with severe cases, were admitted to our cholera treatment (and isolation) centre (CTC), which has a 100-bed capacity. During the day of September 13 alone, 50 patients were admitted to the centre. The least severe cases were treated in outpatient oral rehydration facilities.
Once again, MSF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) find themselves alone in the field. No other international organization has been here during the recurring emergency situations in Borno State
In tandem with providing medical care, MSF initiated an effort in late August to improve hygiene and sanitation in the camp where the first cholera cases appeared (chlorination of water sources, provision of chlorine solution for hand washing, "home" disinfection when a case is identified, etc.). Since then, our expert teams have been working in the second affected camp, where they identified a contaminated water source. In mid-September, MSF launched the same type of operation in the third affected camp.
Appeal for help 'has gone unanswered'
‘‘Once again, MSF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) find themselves alone in the field. No other international organization has been here during the recurring emergency situations in Borno State and, more specifically, in the Maiduguri area – the site of the vast majority of people displaced by the years-long conflict between the Nigerian army and Boko Haram,’’ said Ghada Hatim, MSF’s head of mission in Nigeria.
‘‘In September 2014, MSF treated more than 4,000 patients after a cholera epidemic broke out in Borno State. The living and hygienic conditions in the camps were and remain ripe for the outbreak of this type of epidemic. We need more support,” noted Chibuzo Okonta, MSF’s emergency project manager in Paris. “We have repeatedly called on other humanitarian and aid organizations to assist displaced persons in Borno State and are again issuing this appeal, which has gone unanswered.”