Niger was affected by a severe outbreak of meningitis in 2015, and also had to contend with rising numbers of refugees and people internally displaced by violence.
The violent activities of the group known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), also known as Boko Haram, in neighbouring Nigeria caused people to flee over the border into Niger’s Diffa region. There were also direct attacks in Diffa, and the military response to the group caused further displacement. By the end of the year, over 300,000 returnees, refugees and displaced people in Diffa region were living in precarious conditions without access to healthcare, and vulnerable to diseases and violence.
To improve healthcare for both the host and displaced populations, MSF worked alongside the Ministry of Health in the main maternal and paediatric health centre in the city of Diffa, in the district hospital in Nguigmi town, and several health centres in the districts of Diffa, Nguigmi and Bosso. MSF also provided medical care and water and sanitation activities in Assaga camp, which hosted some 12,000 Nigerian refugees, and in Yebi, where 30,000 people sought refuge. Teams carried out more than 142,000 medical consultations in the region. In Assaga camp, 2,700 children were vaccinated against measles. MSF also responded in the localities of Gueskerou, Bosso, Chetimari, Gagamari, Assaga, Diffa, Damasak and Djamea, distributing over 2,500 relief kits to refugees and internally displaced people, as well as to host communities where resources were overstretched.
The cholera emergency response that began in December 2014 in Diffa region ended in mid-January. MSF had set up two cholera treatment centres in Diffa town and Chetimari, with a total capacity of 130 beds and treated 260 patients.
There was a particularly severe outbreak of meningitis between April and June, and MSF teams implemented a vaccination campaign in Dogondoutchi and Gaya, Dosso region, reaching over 101,500 children aged between two and 14. A team also provided treatment for nearly 900 patients and distributed meningitis treatment kits to health centres in the region. In the capital district of Niamey, MSF supported 430 beds at a hospital in the northern suburb of Lazaret and 10 clinics in the city. Over 4,800 patients were treated in Niamey alone. Staff also worked in the district hospital for Oullam and Filingué, in the Tillaberi region that surrounds Niamey. At the end of the year, new cases of meningitis appeared in some areas of the country.
MSF runs comprehensive medical and nutrition projects in Madarounfa and Guidan Roumdji departments, providing support for children with severe malnutrition. There are 11 outpatient centres, and an inpatient feeding centre in the respective district hospitals, where MSF also manages the medical care of children in the paediatric and neonatal wards. Teams run community-based activities to combat malaria, including the distribution of bed nets, seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) – the repeated administration of antimalarials as a prophylactic – and outpatient treatment for uncomplicated cases. In Madarounfa, MSF supported four additional health centres in Dan Issa during the height of the malaria season, carrying out almost 10,000 consultations, and set up a temporary inpatient unit to treat children with severe malaria. In Guidan Roumdji, MSF supports a laboratory and blood bank at the hospital. Four of the five health centres MSF was supporting in Guidan Roumdji were handed over to the Ministry of Health at the end of March.
Access to safe water is limited in the region, and MSF has been working to regenerate water wells in partnership with the Regional Directorate of Maradi Hydraulics. In 2015, 15 boreholes were rehabilitated.
MSF continues to provide comprehensive medical and nutritional care for children in the departments of Madaoua and Bouza, supporting a total of 11 outpatient feeding centres as well as inpatient feeding centres and paediatric units in the district hospitals. In Madaoua, a network of community volunteers in 80 villages screened children for severe acute malnutrition; malnourished children were also tested for HIV. In Bouza, MSF introduced a preventive and curative comprehensive care programme (known by its French acronym PPCSI) in Tama. It involves monitoring all children under the age of two, treating them quickly if they fall ill, and preventing the main causes of death by administering vaccinations, nutritional supplements, deworming, and malaria prophylaxis.
In Magaria, the peak malnutrition season was particularly severe. MSF supported the inpatient feeding centre and paediatric unit of the district hospital, where nearly 800 children were hospitalised in October, and seven outpatient feeding centres. MSF also provided vaccinations for common childhood diseases and SMC in seven health zones. In Zinder city, MSF supported the inpatient paediatric unit at the national hospital and an inpatient feeding centre, as well as the feeding centre in Chare Zamna. MSF offered financial aid, staff training and medical supplies to the hospital and started to slowly hand over activities to the Ministry of Health.
An MSF team focused on water treatment at the household level in 89 villages in Dossono health zone, targeting 17,000 children and benefiting 52,300 people overall.
No. staff in 2015: 1,800 | Expenditure: €28.5 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1985 | msf.org/niger
Foureza Noura – 30 years old, has come with her son to Dan Issa, Maradi region, where MSF supports an outpatient feeding centre.
"I came from my village in Nigeria with my two-year-old son. He has a fever and is not eating. We made a deal with a driver to drive us the two hours to get here. Several women in my village advised me to come to the MSF health centre because in Nigeria medical care costs a lot and is poor quality. The MSF nurses told me that my son Bassirou had malaria and was malnourished. I received medication and nutritional paste. We were told to come back in a week to be sure my child had recovered.”