MSF starts malaria programme in the Niger Delta

Press release, October 27, 1999

Lagos, Nigeria - The international humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started a malaria and fever program in the oil-rich Niger Delta, the most conflict-ridden region in Nigeria. Malaria is the number one cause of mortality and morbidity in the area. The population of Bayelsa state has limited access to health care. Ethnic clashes and civil unrest are all too present.

MSF is concerned about the situation in the Niger Delta since there are no international humanitarian non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operating in Bayelsa nor are existing health infrastructures meeting the needs of the population. Two small medical assessment missions have lead to the decision for a malaria intervention; malaria being the main cause of mortality and morbidity for the 100,000 people in this watery and conflict-prone environment. Child mortality for this region is 200 per 1000 per year. (Source: Unicef/Federal Government of Nigeria) One quarter of all deaths of children under one year is caused by malaria.

MSF has a long history in Nigeria. In 1987, MSF vaccinated 2,5 million Nigerians in the region around Ibadan and in Anambra State. MSF has been permanently present in the country since 1996, after intervening in a large-scale meningitis epidemic in the north. A cholera epidemic came on the heels of the meningitis. After these two epidemics, MSF continued working in the epidemic-prone north with several cholera interventions in 1999 in Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Borno States.

Next to the new malaria and fever program, the current MSF programs are:

  • an emergency preparedness program in Kano State that will respond to meningitis, yellow fever, measles and cholera


  • a cholera prevention and treatment program in Borno State
  • a health and water surveillance program in a slum area of Lagos.

    An aerial assessment of the recent flood damage to the Niger River valley in Niger State was just completed and determined that no medical emergency exists but the potential for epidemics as the water recedes is strong in the coming months.