Nigeria is sharply divided along religious lines with a Muslim-dominated north. Nearly all Christians in north-eastern Nigeria have lost family members to Boko Haram and Islamic militant Fulani violence. Thousands of Christians remain in camps designated for internally displaced people (IDP). These camps are rife with disease and human rights violations, most especially against women and children.
While most IDP camps have medical facilities, they are understaffed and under-resourced. Thousands of people live in IDP camps indefinitely, with insufficient sanitary facilities, healthcare and privacy. Assault and rape are common violations, resulting in unplanned pregnancy for many women and underage girls. In these cases, fear of stigmatisation generally prevents the woman or girl seeking out appropriate medical care, leading often to maternal transmission of diseases like hepatitis and HIV.
The polio eradication efforts in Nigeria, promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012, were set to see polio ended in Nigeria by 2017. They were sending teams of trained women into the rural north, vaccinating children under five. But then, Boko Haram (direct translation, “Western education is a sin”) spread propaganda that the vaccine was a sterilisation drug to stop Muslim families reproducing. Thirteen vaccinators were killed by Boko Haram in an attack. People stopped allowing their children to take the free vaccine because of the fear and distrust they had for Western medicine, and Boko Haram. Polio began to increase and, today, vaccinators are still trying to recoup their efforts. The incidence of polio in Nigeria is abundant.
Voice of the Martyrs is supporting a clinic in Nigeria, set up by our ministry partner, to make vital medical treatment available to those who most need it. Many of the recipients have been displaced through religious violence. Here they have access to on-site doctors who provide surgery, medicine, dental care, maternal care and specialist treatment.
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