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MSF scales up activities as cholera spreads in Borno state

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As new cases of cholera emerge from Monguno, Dikwa and other parts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, Nigeria, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to scale up its response.
The Borno state Ministry of Health has reported 2,627 cholera cases, with 48 deaths, since the start of the outbreak. Maiduguri alone has witnessed 1,425 cases, while 600 and 602 cases have so far been reported in Dikwa and Monguno respectively.             

“Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to tackling cholera outbreaks,” says Anna Cillers, MSF medical coordinator. “As cases increased in Maiduguri, we rapidly added more beds to our cholera treatment centre in Dala, where we now have 100 beds.”

Since 16 August, 491 patients have been admitted and 475 discharged in Dala. Near Muna garage camp, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, MSF has constructed another cholera treatment centre with a 50-bed capacity that can be increased to 100 in the coming days if required.

Muna Garage camp hosts around 20,000 people displaced by the ongoing conflict between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram. But the outbreak has now begun to spread throughout other camps in the surrounding area and inside the city.

Inside Muna Garage camp, MSF operates an oral rehydration point where patients can obtain sugar and salt solution to help them to overcome severe dehydration. Patients arriving in critical condition are taken directly by ambulance to the cholera treatment centres.

As authorities and humanitarian actors tackle the outbreak in Maiduguri, numbers of cholera cases have been increasing in Monguno and Dikwa. Monguno is home to around 200,000 people, two-thirds of whom have fled other parts of the state and now live in official and unofficial camps. Dikwa, a military-controlled enclave, is home to approximately 120,000 people, 100,000 of whom are displaced.

“In Monguno, we adapted our existing medical facility to isolate patients with suspected cholera, and are currently operating a 110-bed cholera treatment centre,” says Dr Félix Kouassi, MSF medical coordinator. “We are worried that the number of beds currently planned may not be enough as cases continue to rise in the town.”

MSF is closely coordinating its efforts with the Borno Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other humanitarian organisations in the prevention and treatment of cholera, including providing training for their health workers.

“Our facilities operate 24 hours every day, and are free of charge. People with symptoms of cholera – acute watery diarrhoea or three or more loose stools per day, and dehydration – should seek treatment immediately, said Dr Félix Kouassi, MSF medical coordinator.

“We remain alert and through our community health workers continue to monitor the spread of the outbreak, and respond to it across Borno state.”

Besides Borno, MSF is currently responding to cholera outbreaks in eastern Chad near the Sudanese border, in multiple locations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and throughout Yemen. 

MSF provides nutrition, primary and secondary healthcare, medical aid in disease outbreaks, and operates across 11 locations in Borno state.