John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Health Services Collapse in Northeast Nigeria

by John Campbell
March 13, 2014

Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Volunteer Health officials wait to immunise children at a school in Nigeria's capital Abuja February 1, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Recently an Agence France Press (AFP) article reported that health services have collapsed in Borno state in northeast Nigeria due to the onslaught of “Boko Haram.” AFP reports that hospitals and clinics have been attacked, and medical personnel kidnapped either for ransom or to treat wounded Boko Haram fighters. AFP also reports that Boko Haram has been carrying out attacks on pharmacies–usually Christian-owned–for looting and destruction.

In the past, Boko Haram has attacked polio immunization clinics; along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nigeria remains one of three countries where polio is still endemic. In a 2013 study by the Polio Global Eradication Initiative the polio virus was contained in Nigeria to four northern states: Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, and Borno.

Even before Boko Haram, Borno, was one of the poorest states in Nigeria, with some of the worst health statistics. Under current conditions, it is difficult to see how the polio vaccination campaign can make much headway in Borno. Worse, if health services in the northeast do collapse Nigeria may be at risk of the polio virus spreading.

There is a dearth of information coming out about Borno. In effect, the Abuja government has imposed a news blackout, most reports are based on conversations with residents who have left. Nevertheless, it is likely that Borno is currently a health humanitarian disaster zone.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Chike

    5 things.

    1. Health services have collapsed nation-wide, not just in the North East.
    2. Having said that, the situation in the North East is especially dire.
    3. Policy makers don’t really care – & haven’t cared since the 1980s.
    4. Nigeria is a land of “every man for himself, God for us all”. There is very little sense of common purpose.
    5. This will be shrugged off as just another bad news for the day – life continues.

  • Posted by Dan

    Chike is right: Health services have collapsed, completely, all over Nigeria, and all those in power cared about is how to get their hands on the next $20 billion to steal, while instigating discords across ethnic, religious and regional divides to ensure their hands keep dipping into the coffers. And the poor masses keep hating and killing each other for nothing!! What a shame.

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