More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State. To help meet their growing medical and nutritional needs, the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) has rapidly scaled up its operations in the region over the past month.
In the city of Monguno, tens of thousands of displaced people have settled in a dozen makeshift camps without access to adequate food, medical care, clean water or sanitation. They are living in precarious conditions in straw shelters that offer little protection during the rainy season.
“Displaced people living in Monguno have little means to survive. They are unable to farm or tend to livestock. It is the rainy season when they would normally be planting their fields, but instead they are living in camps and totally dependent on international aid and food,” says Dr. Mahama Gbane, emergency coordinator for ALIMA.
When an ALIMA team first arrived in Monguno in mid-June, they found extremely high rates of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and many measles cases. Health facilities in the city were not functioning and the majority of healthcare workers had themselves fled. Together with local Ministry of health teams, ALIMA carried out an emergency measles vaccination and began treating malnourished children with supplemental nutritional foods.
“Before our arrival in Monguno, there was only one doctor in the city and no nutritional program because the main city health structures had been abandoned,” describes Dr. Gbane.
In mid-July, ALIMA set up operations in the Maternal Child Health clinic in Monguno to provide pediatric out-patient care, screening and out-patient treatment for malnutrition, and an in-patient facility for complicated cases. In addition, ALIMA began running four clinics for pediatric and malnutrition care in the largest camps in Monguno.
Since July 12, ALIMA’s medical teams have provided more than 10,000 medical consultations in the city, enrolled over 3000 severely malnourished children in its out-patient therapeutic feeding program, treated over 570 complicated malnutrition cases in its in-patient program, and cared for nearly 1900 measles cases. ALIMA has now added 4 new mobile medical clinics in additional camp sites in the city in order to reach as many children as possible, including new arrivals to Monguno.
“We primarily treat respiratory infections and diarrhea cases that are linked to the extremely precarious living conditions faced by the displaced people,” said Dr. Gbane Mahama. “With the poor water and sanitation in the city and the coming of the rainy season, we are concerned about cholera, which can be extremely deadly.”
In addition, ALIMA is now responding to urgent medical needs in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, where well over one million displaced people are living among host communities and in camps. Last week, ALIMA opened a project in Muna, on the outskirts of Maiduguri focusing on the needs of children under five among the displaced and the host communities in the area. ALIMA’s new clinic in Muna is offering medical care as well as screening and treatment for malnutrition.
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) pools the expertise of international aid workers, national medical organizations and global research institutions to provide quality medical care to people in need and carry out cutting-edge research to improve humanitarian medicine. Based in Dakar, Senegal, ALIMA has treated more than 2 million patients in 12 countries since its founding in 2009 and launched 10 research projects focusing on malnutrition, malaria, and Ebola.