One third of medical facilities in Nigeria’s Borno State ‘destroyed’, WHO says

14 Dec 16

One third of health facilities in Nigeria’s conflict-hit Borno State have been completely destroyed, while nearly another third are partially damaged, it has been announced.

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A woman cooks in a Nigerian refugee camp

A woman in a Nigerian refugee camp. Millions of people in the north-east of the country have fled their homes to seek refuge from militant group Boko Haram.


According to the World Health Organisation, 31% of the remaining, intact hospitals, of which there are 481, are not functioning mostly due to the insecurity caused by the militant group Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria’s north east.

Almost 60% of all health facilities in Borno State, where an estimated 14 million people are in need of aid, have no access to safe water. A third of those get no water at all, while the other 72% do not have enough chlorine to decontaminate the water they do have.

“High insecurity, difficult terrain and a lack of health workers, medicines, equipment and basic amenities are making access to essential, lifesaving healthcare extremely difficult for people living in this conflict-affected area,” said Wondi Alemu, WHO representative in Nigeria.

Of the 14 million people in need of aid, the WHO said just under half of those (six million) require healthcare.

As many as 400,000 children are at risk of famine, and 75,000 of those could die from hunger within months, according to UNICEF.

Boko Haram’s insurgency has sparked a deepening food crisis in the region. Those living in areas the group controls are cut off from the rest of the world and are unable to plant crops.

Even parts of the state liberated from the militant group, now home to millions of displaced people, are teetering on the brink of famine.

Alongside the Borno State ministry of health, the WHO has set up an online system to monitor the availability of health resources – where today’s figures come from.

Health workers will add information into the system about the clinic or hospital that they work in, including the services it is able to provide, whether it has basic infrastructure for water and electricity and the types of equipment, medicine and skills available there.

Kadai Baba Gana, deputy for planning, research and statistics in the Borno State ministry of health and chairman of the monitoring system’s task team, said the information the system produces is “critical”.

“This will help us to better coordinate and monitor the response and guide the allocation of scarce resources.”

But the WHO stressed that more funds were needed. The UN and partners need $94m to deliver health services to the six million people in need, more than half of whom are children.

Of this share, the WHO said it will require $37m to deliver on its response plans in 2017.

The UN recently launched an appeal for $1.2bn to fund its entire response to the crisis in north eastern Nigeria.

The country’s president, Mohammadu Buhari, then accused the UN of “whipping up a non-existant fear of mass starvation” to draw donor support. 

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