Médecins Sans Frontieres MSF teams are providing healthcare services to residents living in the remote areas of Borno State in spite of the insecurity in the region.
Among such areas include Dusuman community outside Maiduguri, in the neighbourhood of Zabarmari village, where dozens of rice farmers were beheaded last year by the Boko Haram terrorist group; Musari and the Ahmed Grema camp for displaced persons in Shuwari.
Following insecurity in the state, residents of the communities have found it difficult to access humanitarian or medical care. In addition to limited medical care, the few existing local clinics are short of essential medications, and charge for their services, making them out of reach of most of the residents.
Hence the reason Aisha, a displaced person living in Dusuman and the mother of 12-year-old Yahaya who have been sick for a week, visited the mobile clinic.
‘‘If possible, we would like to have a permanent presence of NGOs in our community to provide us and people in the surrounding settlements with free healthcare services,’’ she said.
Although unable to work in Zabarmari, MSF between mid-August to December 2020, deployed mobile clinics to offer free healthcare services to residents of the communities. Within the set period, the team provided a total of 6,881 consultations for children living in villages outside Maiduguri. Out of the 6,463 children diagnosed with malaria, 2,260 were treated and 18 referred to hospitals. Likewise, 71 out of 190 children diagnosed of acute malnutrition received treatment.
For neighbourhoods such as Zabarmari, too insecure for the medical team, they trained indigenes from the neighbourhoods to carry out rapid malaria tests and malnutrition screening. They either give the appropriate medication, or in a serious or hard to determine conditions, they refer the children to an MSF hospital in the capital city. In such manner they provide children living in remote villages access to basic healthcare every day.
‘‘As we cannot work directly in Zabarmari, we have engaged members of the community and trained them on how to perform basic tasks like test-and-treat malaria. They refer patients who require additional management to Gwange or Fori hospitals in Maiduguri,’’ said manager of the MSF mobile team, Isa Ibrahim.
With malaria peak season almost over in the state, MSF mobile team has ended its activities but is open to restarting depending on the state of security in Borno and residents’ medical needs.
MSF has operated in Nigeria since 1996 and in Borno since 2014. In Borno State, its team administers emergency treatment, surgery, malnutrition treatment, maternity and ante-natal care, vaccinations and the prevention and treatment of malaria and other diseases.