While the humanitarian situation has improved to some extent in several locations in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State, it is disturbing that hundreds of people in the Ngala camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) have been infected with Hepatitis E due to poor living conditions and flooding, MSF has said.
The highly contagious disease has spread quickly through the camp with 400 cases reported and four pregnant women dying in the past two months.
“The situation in Ngala is very worrying,” says Nicoletta Bellio, Doctors Without Borders (MSF)’s medical coordinator in Ngala. “The onset of the rainy season has caused repeated flooding in the camp and water gushes across pathways, latrine holes and into people’s shelters. When it rains, the whole camp gets covered in mud and dirty water. This is a recipe for spreading bacteria and disease – particularly as people don’t always use the latrines that have been installed in the camp, so wastewater washes out everywhere.”
MSF is worried that flooding in the camp could lead to further outbreaks of other waterborne diseases like cholera, given the poor sanitary conditions in the camp.
Hepatitis E can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies. It leads to high rates of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths, as well as babies being born prematurely. It can also cause severe hemorrhaging in mothers, both during and after childbirth.
About 45,000 people currently live in the IDP camp in Ngala. The camp is near the border with Cameroon and people have fled there due to violence from Boko Haram and ongoing military operations in the area. Newly displaced people, who have been victims of extreme violence and have lost family members, arrive in Ngala on a regular basis.