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MSF decries rising measles cases in Borno

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders has raised an alarm over rising cases of measles in Borno State.

The organisation, which facility at Gwange in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital has treated 1,158 cases of measles since January, this year, said treatment needs to be stepped up to combat the diseases common during the heat periods.

A statement on Saturday by the organisation said there is need to cater for a high number of patients suffering from measles in and around Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in Nigeria.

The statement quoting the MSF Head of Mission, said, “The first child affected by measles was admitted in Gwange Paediatric hospital on 3rd December, 2020 and the number of patients has been increasing since then in Maiduguri hospitals.”

He said: “A vaccination campaign is required to see the number of cases decrease.”

The statement said so far a total of 1158 children with measles have been received in Gwange paediatric hospital in Maiduguri from 1st January to 3rd April 2021, and of those 58% have come from Zabarmari, a small town located about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri.

It said in response, MSF strengthened the hospitalization capacity in both Gwange and Fori health facilities, increasing the number of beds from 65 to 105 in Gwange. MSF has also launched activities in partnership with the health authorities in the town of Zabarmari, one of the most affected areas which has an estimated population of over 45,000 people including displaced families in host community.

It added that: “Given that access to Zabarmari remains a challenge, due to the volatile context, MSF has set up a local team comprising of ten community health workers and a nurse. This team in Zabarmari is supervised by a mobile team coming from Maiduguri to support the local primary health care and refer severe cases to the Gwange paediatric hospital in Maiduguri.”

The statement lamented that Borno State has had incidents of measles epidemic every two years over the past decade, recalling that during the measles outbreak in 2019, eight local government areas of Borno state were affected and MSF provided care to 4,000 children in Gwange and Bama hospitals.

It revealed that several factors which contribute to the epidemic, includes the fact that the routine vaccination is not carried out in many locations because over 60% of health centres, according to health authorities, are closed or unable to function properly because of the conflict, and the fact that NGOs providing health care in remote areas have been forced to leave due to security reasons.

A mother of seven children, Kubura Mohammed,who is from Zabarmari brought her four year old daughter, Kaltume Hafisu, to the Gwange Clinic who she was diagnosed of measles.

She said: ‘l”My daughter has been ill for six days before I brought her to the hospital. The medical team were all around my daughter throughout our first night because her condition was really critical. Her treatment commenced from the moment she was admitted and this includes blood transfusion and the administration of intravenous fluids.”

‘The care we are receiving here is completely free. We appreciate what MSF is doing in our community and I must add that about two weeks ago, one of my daughters was also treated of measles in this hospital. All of my seven children have had measles at different times.”

The statement said for those communities living outside Maiduguri in areas with limited access to health care, access to healthcare and vaccination is critical, but David Thérond however said: “We are engaged in discussions with the authorities and get prepared to support the health authorities for a catch up vaccination campaign in Maiduguri and Zabarmari as soon as vaccines are available, because measles is extremely contagious and especially dangerous for young children.”

He said vaccination plan is still under discussion at state and federal levels with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.


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