The needs of refugees and displaced people in Diffa region continue to mount as the country strives to stem child mortality and outbreak of epidemics such as measles, meningitis and hepatitis E.
Niger continues to suffer the consequences of the ongoing conflict in the Lake Chad region.
To improve healthcare for displaced populations, host communities and the population at large – in particular children – we continue to work with the Ministry of Health and community health workers to deliver integrated health programmes throughout the country.
These focus on both the treatment and prevention of diseases, especially malnutrition and malaria, inside and outside formal health structures.
Niger has made remarkable progress in cutting 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, the people living in Diffa continue to suffer the consequences of the violent clashes between armed opposition groups in Nigeria and the military forces in the region. Our teams provide medical and mental care for displaced people and host communities at numerous health facilities in Diffa region, on the border with Nigeria, and run mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas.
Together with the Ministry of Health MSF provides reproductive health services in Diffa region, where our teams have set up ‘listening spaces’ to offer advice and medical assistance to women on sexual and reproductive health issues.
LISTENING SPACES, BY AND FOR THE COMMUNITY
The spread of hepatitis E in Diffa region slowed down since MSF began detecting and treating cases in early 2017, and the subsequent declaration of an outbreak by the Ministry of Health in mid-April 2017. 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, for whom – and for whose unborn babies – the risks are most severe.
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.