Nigeria: MSF scales up activities as cholera outbreak spreads in Borno state

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 — As new cases of cholera emerge from Monguno, Dikwa and other parts of Maiduguri, the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continues to rapidly scale up its response in Borno state, in Nigeria.


Since the start of the outbreak in August, a total of 2627 cholera cases with 48 deaths have been reported by the Borno State Ministry of Health. The state capital of Maiduguri alone has witnessed 1425 cases, while 600 cases in Dikwa and 602 cases in Monguno have so far been reported.


Since 16 August, 491 patients were admitted and 475 discharged in Dala. MSF has now constructed, near Muna garage camp located at the outskirts of Maiduguri, another cholera treatment centre with a 50 bed capacity which can be increased to 100 in the coming days, if required.


Muna Garage camp hosts about 20,000 people who have been 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 here in critical condition are taken directly in our ambulances 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, towns to the east of the capital. Monguno is home to about 200,000 people, two-thirds of whom are people who 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, out of which 100,000 are internally displaced people.


Anna Cillers, MSF medical coordinator says:


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


Dr. Félix Kouassi, MSF medical coordinator says:


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


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


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


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.

A child from Muna Camp, undergoing treatment, at MSF’s Cholera Treatment Unit in Dala, Maiduguri. Children, especially if they are undernourished are at a greater risk of death, if infected by cholera.
Anna Cilliers, a South African nurse. Here she's in South Sudan in June 2013 for a vaccination campaign to reduce the spread of seasonal meningitis.
MSF health workers Aishatu and John talk to Khadija, a patient suspected of having cholera. Khadija and her husband have spent three days undergoing treatment at the Cholera Treatment Unit (CTU) in Dala, Maiduguri. The couple are internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Dikwa, Borno and currently live in Muna Camp.
MSF’s Cholera Treatment Unit (CTU) in Dala, Maiduguri.
Charlotte Morris Press Officer at Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa