FeatureEpidemiology

Nigeria's invisible crisis

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Science  07 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6333, pp. 18-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6333.18

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Summary

In one of the world's least recognized humanitarian crises, millions of people in northeastern Nigeria who have fled the violence of the terrorist group Boko Haram are sick and near starvation. More than 8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 5.1 million are severely malnourished, most of them children. The displaced have crowded into squalid camps and towns too destitute to deal with the influx. Food, clean water, and sanitation are scarce or nonexistent, and these conditions create a perfect breeding ground for disease. In a deadly cycle, malnutrition renders children more susceptible to infection and less able to fight it. Epidemics of malaria and measles rage, polio has resurfaced, and child mortality is off the charts. The United Nations has asked for $1 billion for the crisis but has received only a tiny fraction, leaving health workers struggling with how to deliver lifesaving interventions when the needs are so great and the resources so paltry.

  • * Photography by Andrew Esiebo/Associated Press

    Reporting for this story was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.