To improve healthcare for displaced people, host communities and the population at large ─ in particular children ─ we work with the Ministry of Health and community health workers to deliver integrated health programmes throughout the country.
MSF teams are currently responding to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Niger.
Niger has made remarkable progress in reducing under-five mortality over the past decade, but malnutrition and malaria – the main causes of childhood death – remain rife. We run targeted paediatric programmes, support community health workers and boost the capacity of public facilities, particularly during the 'hunger gap' between harvests, which coincides with the rainy season and malaria peak.
MSF supports community health workers in more than 40 villages in the Maradi region. The community health workers are especially active during the peak malaria season and ensure early detection and treatment of simple malaria and screening for malnutrition. The recent scale-up of health promotion and community-based activities in the region resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in admissions for severe complicated malaria in the health facilities we support.
Since 2015, people living in Diffa region, in the Lake Chad Basin, suffer the consequences of the violent clashes between armed opposition groups in neighbouring Nigeria and the military forces in the region. We provide medical and mental care for displaced people and host communities at numerous health facilities in the region and run mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas. In Agadez, in the north of Niger, we support local communities and migrants along the main migratory routes.
The spread of hepatitis E in Diffa region has slowed down since MSF began detecting and treating cases in early 2017, and the Ministry of Health subsequently declared an outbreak in mid-April of the same year. The number of fatalities dropped, thanks to active case-finding, quicker diagnosis, water chlorination and awareness-raising activities. Our teams helped to treat patients and set up an intensive care unit for pregnant women, as the risks are most severe for them and their unborn babies.
Niger, which is part of the ‘meningitis belt’ that stretches across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, is regularly affected by meningitis outbreaks. We monitor at-risk areas, help the Ministry of Health to run vaccination campaigns and help treat those affected by the disease.
Our activities in 2020 in Niger
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.
In the capital, Niamey, the city with the most cases, MSF built a treatment centre to care for patients in the first months of the pandemic. We also supported the COVID-19 call centre in Niamey and some health facilities in other major cities.
From June, heavy rains fell, submerging the most impoverished districts of the capital and several parts of Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillabéri. In Niamey, we supplied drinking water and set up mobile clinics to assist people displaced by the floods. In addition, we distributed relief items and provided psychological support in the hardest-hit areas of the city.
In Diffa, Maradi, Magaria, and Tillabéri, our teams treated more patients with malaria than in 2019, mainly due to the shortage of antimalarial medicines and a lack of access to healthcare, both due to the COVID-19 crisis. The early onset of the rainy season also resulted in increased transmission of the disease.
From October to December, we supported a regional hospital in Niamey to improve care for children under the age of 15 by increasing its inpatient capacity, training staff and donating drugs. We also maintained our support to the Ministry of Public Health by boosting inpatient capacity for the treatment of acutely malnourished children in Madarounfa and Magaria. Our teams are developing preventive and community-based approaches to reduce the number of patients with complications from malnutrition; for example, by providing early treatment for malaria, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea.
Despite the closure of the border during the pandemic, the systematic and illegal expulsion of migrants from Algeria to Niger continued in 2020. MSF teams in Agadez donated essential healthcare supplies, gave psychosocial support, and ran search and rescue operations for migrants lost or abandoned in the desert.
Throughout the year, our teams assisted host communities and displaced people affected by violence in Tillabéri and Diffa regions by offering healthcare and distributing relief items. We also asked the relevant authorities to ensure the protection of civilians and improve assistance to them.
Our COVID-19 activities in Niger
Niamey, the capital of Niger, is the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
MSF is supporting the Ministry of Health’s response to the new coronavirus. Audace Ntezukobagira, our emergency coordinator in the Sahel, explains how.