Nigeria: Boko Haram violence hits healthcare

2014-03-09 15:01
File photo (WHO/AFP)

File photo (WHO/AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Kano - Healthcare services have collapsed in the northern part of Nigeria's Borno state as doctors, nurses and pharmacists flee for their lives from brutal violence unleashed by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

Medical professionals say health services in the region have largely shut down, with mortality rates and vaccination programmes severely hit and pressure heaped on the skeleton staff that remain.

"The whole healthcare system in northern Borno has collapsed and healthcare delivery is nil," said Musa Babakura, a surgeon at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).

Babakura said the situation was a "growing health crisis", with the sick forced to trek vasts distances to receive medical attention and vaccination programmes for children compromised.

Violence by Boko Haram militants has raged since 2009, but has been particularly ferocious in recent weeks, with around 500 people killed in suspected Islamist attacks since the start of the year.

Worst hit by militant attacks are villages in remote, rural areas near Borno's border with Cameroon, despite an increased military presence in the state.

Kidnappings, armed robberies and looting

Hospitals and clinics have not escaped raids, even after Nigeria's government imposed emergency rule on Borno and two other northeastern states in May last year.

Medical personnel have been kidnapped, either for ransom or to treat wounded fighters in Boko Haram's ranks, while pharmacies - mostly run by Christians - have faced armed robberies and looting.

The insecurity has forced local people to cross into neighbouring Cameroon in search of treatment, with pregnant women and the infirm using donkeys and auto-rickshaws to negotiate the difficult terrain.

The gruelling trek takes its toll, said Modu Faltaye, a local chief in Wulgo, on the shores of Lake Chad.

"By the time the sick reach the hospital [in Cameroon], they are in a worse state, which is why we lose a lot of our sick," he said.

"Naturally, the rate of maternal and infant mortality is bound to rise in the area as a result of complications arising from poor transportation facilities to hospital," added Babakura.

Dozens dead

Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world - along with Afghanistan and Pakistan - where polio is endemic but violence against immunisation workers has affected programmes.

At least nine people were killed in February last year, when gunmen stormed two vaccination clinics in the northern city of Kano, hampering efforts to inoculate children against the virus.

In 2013, there were 53 recorded cases of polio in Nigeria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said.

Just over half were in Borno and neighbouring Yobe, which is also under emergency rule and suffering from Boko Haram attacks.

One Borno immunisation official said childhood jabs were now only given in the state capital, Maiduguri, because vaccinators were afraid to travel to many parts of the state.

In Baga, a fishing village near Lake Chad, a suspected cerebral fever has killed scores of people since December last year but residents have been unable to seek treatment.

"People are dying like fowls," said local man Husseini Goni.

Difficulties in delivering drugs to violence-affected areas and the closure of pharmacies have increased costs of medication by as much as 35%, local people say.

Staff shortages

Hospital treatment in Cameroon is also more expensive than in Nigeria, according to doctors and nurses.

But the closure of healthcare facilities in rural areas has added pressure on those who remain, with hospitals in Maiduguri having to take the strain, despite staff shortages.

Two of the hospital's three orthopaedic surgeons have quit, said doctor Kabiru Ibrahim.

A number of senior specialists are either on leave of absence or sabbatical pending an end to the violence, he added.

"Patients with special ailments like HIV, diabetic and hypertensive patients need to access drugs at regular intervals and those drugs can only be found in Maiduguri," said Ibrahim.

"But these types of patients are sometimes denied the chance to come and take their drugs due to Boko Haram carrying out highway attacks."

Babakura said hospitals such as the UMTH were now forced to provide treatment that would ordinarily be given at primary care level.

"[Closures have] substantially increased the patient burden on us, which makes us work longer hours that could compromise efficiency," he added.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.