Since 2009, northeast Nigeria has been severely affected by violent conflict between the Nigerian Federal Army and armed insurgents. Nigerian security forces have recaptured a number of villages and towns in the region since the beginning of 2016, revealing acute humanitarian needs of populations previously inaccessible.
Around a third of the people living in Borno State are currently internally displaced, with the majority seeking refuge in the state capital Maiduguri. Health facilities have been destroyed, looted or damaged as a result of the armed conflict. Those health facilities still functioning are constrained, with inadequate staffing and insufficient supplies and equipment to cover the health needs of internally displaced persons and the local populations.
Before the insurgency, Borno State already had health indicators significantly lower than national figures. The deterioration of the already precarious health situation, combined with the disruption of local markets, trade, and agriculture has led to food insecurity. Infant and maternal mortality rates have skyrocketed due to low vaccination coverage and a high prevalence of diarrheal diseases and acute malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, the overall nutrition situation in Borno State is classified as very alarming.
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) is providing emergency medical care to thousands of displaced children suffering from severe malnutrition and a deadly measles outbreak in northern Nigeria. Following a United Nations alert in May about the dire situation of people displaced by conflict in north eastern Nigeria, ALIMA conducted an exploratory mission in Monguno, a city in Borno state where more than 150,000 displaced people are seeking refuge. ALIMA found alarming high rates of acute malnutrition and increased risk of death. Working alongside the Ministry of Health, ALIMA supported the vaccination of children against measles.
ALIMA has now deployed additional resources including a full international medical team and opened a clinic to provide urgent medical care to displaced people in Monguno. ALIMA medical teams have already treated large numbers of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and continues to care for dozens of patients each day. A deadly measles epidemic is raging and ALIMA has treated over 700 cases in Monguno. ALIMA is also preparing to provide medical support to others in need in Borno State.
Matthew Cleary, ALIMA’s executive director and emergency coordinator in Borno states, “It is clear that the people of Borno State are facing an acute health and nutritional emergency. In Monguno, ALIMA is helping to lead the medical humanitarian response.”