By Abraham Olatokunbo
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders, has devised a strategy to take medical care to hard-to-reach areas of troubled Borno State.
In some communities, such as Zabarmari, which are too insecure for visits by MSF’s mobile team. the organisation employs a simple yet effective method to provide children with essential healthcare.
The MSF team trains a person from the neighbourhood (community) to carry out rapid malaria tests and malnutrition screening, and to either give appropriate medication or, if a child’s condition is serious or hard to determine, he is referred to an MSF hospital in the capital, Maiduguri.
In this way, children living in hard-to-reach villages have access to basic healthcare every day, at any time they need it.
Speaking on the strategy, Isa Ibrahim, who manages MSF’s mobile team, said: “As we cannot directly work in Zabarmari, we have engaged members of the community and trained them in how to perform basic tasks, like test-and-treat malaria.”
He added that: “They refer patients who require additional management to Gwange or Fori hospitals in Maiduguri.”
A statement by MSF on Monday said
“Despite the significant security challenges in working outside the main cities in Borno state, teams from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have been running mobile clinics to provide basic healthcare to children under 16 in a number of locations outside Maiduguri, namely Dusuman, Musari and Ahmed Grema camp for displaced people in Shuwari.
“People in these locations have very limited access to medical care, as the few local clinics that exist are desperately short of essential medications; they also charge for their services, putting them out of most people’s reach.”
The statement added that: “Now that peak season for malaria in Borno state is over, MSF’s mobile team has wound up its activities, but it may restart them in the coming months, depending on the security context and on people’s medical needs.
The statement revealed that between mid-August and December 2020, MSF’s mobile team provided a total of 6,881 consultations for children living in villages outside Maiduguri.
It added that MSF staff tested 6,463 children for malaria and treated 2,260 children for the disease, referring 18 of them to hospital. The team also treated 71 children for severe acute malnutrition and 190 children for moderate acute malnutrition.
MSF has been working in Nigeria since 1996 and in Borno state since 2014. In Borno state, MSF’s medical teams provide emergency treatment, surgery, malnutrition treatment, maternity and antenatal services, vaccinations, and the prevention and treatment of malaria and other diseases.