Nigeria: MSF intervenes in cholera epidemic

  • National staff : 10
  • International staff : 69 In 1998, as part of an emergency preparedness and response (EPR) programme, MSF trained over 200 monitoring and evaluation officers in 11 northern states, to monitor, report, control and respond to outbreaks. As the impact of the programme was seen to be limited, in 1999, the EPR programme was reduced in its scope and now covers only Kano state. MSF now focuses on job training at the hospital and laboratory surveillance. A cholera epidemic broke out in the last weeks of March 1999 in and around the northern city of Kano. MSF set up five oral rehydration therapy units (ORTs) as well as a cholera treatment centre in the local hospital. In the space of eight weeks, 2.379 patients were treated, 39 of whom died. At the end of May, however, an unprecedented number of serious cases continued to be registered. Treatment was hampered by a nation-wide strike of government personnel. With the result that nursing staff in the cholera treatment centres abandoned their work - and their patients. Since all government medical personnel were on strike, the cholera treatment centre also had to deal with an influx of non-cholera patients, a number of whom died. MSF trained health educators in the field of cholera prevention and distributed literature explaining the causes of cholera and the ways to prevent it. The MSF team also provided health information to water vendors, who supply the drinking water for more than half of all Kano households. In early April 1999, there was a meningitis outbreak in the north-eastern state of Yobe. MSF set up vaccination teams and vaccinated more than 7.800 people in isolated villages in the state. MSF investigated several measles outbreaks in May which resulted in the launch of a curative programme. MSF also runs a water-borne disease-control program in Amukoko, a Lagos slum which has a population of 320,000.