By Staff Writer,
Violence continues to devastate the lives and health of the millions of people in the Lake Chad Basin – an area covering north-east Nigeria and parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The World Health Organization (WHO) and humanitarian partners are appealing for urgent funding to cope with profound health challenges in the sub-region.
One of the main health concerns is the risk of epidemics. More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes as a result of the Boko Haram-related conflict. Many displaced people now live in conditions favourable for spreading communicable diseases such as cholera, measles, meningitis and yellow fever. Additional concerns include conflict-related trauma, injuries and disabilities, and an increased need for mental health services.
“This crisis has largely disappeared from television screens, yet that doesn’t mean the suffering has ended. Innocent civilians who continue to fear brutal attacks now face the threat of disease outbreaks and epidemics,” explained Dr Ibrahima-Socé Fall, Director of the Health Security and Emergencies Cluster at the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
“Health systems in the region are already stretched and we are collectively doing all that we can but the financial resources to support and strengthen health systems and infrastructure is simply not there,” Dr Fall added.
United Nations agencies, including WHO, and non-governmental organizations active in the area have received only 13% of the monies needed to implement health aspects of humanitarian response plans across the four countries this year. For WHO the situation is particularly distressing – the Organization has received just 5% of required funds. This hinders WHO’s ability to carry out planned activities including support for primary health, disease surveillance and trauma care.
“Without funding, the health response is severely hampered as we are unable to support the local health authorities and the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who are working to minimize the suffering caused by this crisis,” continued Dr Fall.
“This must change. The international community must band together to ensure the people of the Lake Chad Basin, who have suffered so much already, can at least access health care, which is a fundamental human right.”
*As of 30 October, in US$, funding requirements for humanitarian response in 2015, see the Financial Tracking System for updates