Health

MSF opens new center to cater for malnourished children in Maiduguri

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MSF opens new center to cater for malnourished children in Maiduguri

A new center to treat children with complicated forms of malnutrition has been opened by the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in south Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state. Named Nilefa Keji (which means ‘health is wealth’), the new 120-bed center, which will provide both inpatient and outpatient treatment, is an upgraded version of MSF’s previous malnutrition center at Fori primary health center.

“The move from Fori to Nilefa Keji became necessary because we were seeing a lot of malnourished children in our facility,” says MSF assistant project coordinator Mohammed Dikko Abdullahi. “Fori nutrition center had limited space for expansion and we needed to accommodate more people.”

The new facility, in Maiduguri’s Kusheri nighbourhood, has four emergency beds, 14 intensive care beds and two beds for children with kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition (which causes the legs and body to swell). MSF teams will provide inpatient treatment for children with severe acute malnutrition and with moderate acute malnutrition accompanied by medical complications. The new centre also has an outpatient therapeutic feeding centre with space to accommodate more than 150 children and parents each day.

“The medical team has seen increasing numbers of patients with malnutrition over the past couple of months and, looking at the trends at our hospital and recent reports on food security, we expect an increased number of patients in the coming months,” says Rodel Lambatin, MSF project medical advisor.

To staff the new centre, MSF has recruited and trained additional Nigerian nurses, doctors, nutrition assistants and counsellors.

From January to June 2021, MSF staff at Fori nutrition centre treated 1,110 children for severe acute malnutrition as inpatients and provided outpatient care to 1,122 children with moderate acute malnutrition.

The new centre at Nilefa Keji was completed over five months and includes improved infection prevention and control measures. It also has a rainwater channel, designed to prevent flooding and avoid the accumulation of standing water, which can attract insects and present a health risk.

“With the new site, we have more land for any needed extensions and we have more room for staff,” says MSF construction manager Jordan Gartner. “We will be able to handle more patients, especially during the peak malnutrition season.”

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