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In Chad, Nigerian refugees are healing their wounds.

By Badre Bahaji

Bagasola, CHAD, March 3, 2016 – « At dawn, my village was attacked. I was already 8-months pregnant but I had no choice, I had to run as fast I could, » explains Binta Mahamadou, a young mother of 6 children. “We were leaving in Baga on the shore of the Lake in Nigeria. We fled to Chad by boat, we left everything we had behind.

Binta, now lives in Dar es Salaam refugee camp, in the Lake Region of Chad, with her little twin babies Mahamadou and Khadija, who were born just a few weeks after she arrived safely in Chad. She gave birth in the hospital of Bagasola, a town located 15 kilometers from the camp.

“We are all survivors here”

« I had a surgery due to complications. The babies were in the breech position and I had to undergo an operation, I was very afraid of losing them. I did not even know that I was expecting twins. I stayed eight days in the hospital before coming back to the camp. Today, my two little babies are fine, healthy, I feel blessed as I see them growing every day. We are all survivors here” she says.

Like this courageous mother who fled the conflict in northeast Nigeria, thousands of refugees are struggling to heal their wounds and rebuild their lives. In Chad, close to 75,000 people have been displaced due to the violence in the Lake region and are now living in refugee and internal displaced camps.

UNICEF, with financial support of United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)[1], is supporting the health facilities and mobile clinics of the region with medicines supplies, including 27,000 vaccines, training and deployment of paramedics and community support for prevention of malnutrition

A relief for women and children

Located in the heart of Dar Es Salaam refugee camp, the UNICEF-supported health center is the busiest facility of the camp, hosting more than 5,000 refugees. Inside several tents, tied up side-by-side, health workers are running consultations, immunizations activities, malnutrition screening and consultation and care to patients.

“Since we’re here, we are all healthy. But most importantly, we are no longer afraid of being attacked in the middle of the night. My children sleep well and they can go to school without being frightened by the sounds of gunshots. It’s the first time they’re going to school, I told them that they are lucky because they will have a better life. They did not have that chance back in Nigeria”, she says.

In 2015, despite insecurity along the Lake Chad, UNICEF and its partners responded to the needs of the population affected by the conflict in northeast Nigeria, particularly in the Sahel belt and around the Lake.

Chad continues to face numerous humanitarian challenges in a context of growing vulnerability. Of the 3.9 million people affected by the different emergencies, an estimated 3.4 million will be food insecure in 2016 and 728,000 children under 5 years of age will suffer from acute malnutrition. In addition, Chad is host to the world’s seventh largest refugee population, with more than 378,000 refugees from the Central African Republic, Nigeria and the Sudan.

Between 2015 and 2016, UNICEF Chad received close to USD 3,000,000 from the United Nation’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and protection interventions for refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and host population affected by the Nigerian crisis in the Lake Region of Chad.

Despite insecurity, UNICEF works with its partners to provide life-saving support to the most vulnerable children and women. This includes providing clean water and life-saving health services, restoring access to education by creating temporary learning spaces, delivering therapeutic treatment to malnourished children, distributing emergency supplies such as buckets, soap and water tanks, and ensuring that children benefits form psychosocial and recreational activities.

[1] USD 1,350,000 allocated for Health and Nutrition activities.



No woman should die while giving life

By Badre Bahaji

N’Djamena – May 14, 2015.  Ablamti Fanta, 29, sells clothes in the central market while her two older children of five and nine years old are in school. Her youngest daughter, Adora Halali, six months, comes to the market with her mother every day. Yet, on this sunny morning, they did not go to the market but to the Atrone health center to get vaccinated: « An aunt told me to come here when I got pregnant and I came for consultations until I gave birth. The center is great, women are welcoming and they are taking time to advise mothers who are very young sometimes. They have new equipment and they really respect hygiene here.  »
Roselyne Tallot is managing this urban health center at the outskirts of N’Djamena: « The revitalization of the center was an excellent opportunity to renew our building, our equipment and materials. But more important, the new work environment has motivated my team and helps them to receive patients. For me, it is essential to be close to them.  »

Simple solutions exist to fight maternal, neonatal and infant mortality. Yet, too many mothers and children are still dying in Chad. The French Fund Muskoka is financing access to quality health care and strengthening the health system in Chad. Hundreds of urban health centers were revitalized, equipped and their staff trained throughout the country.

Ablamti Fanta describes her pregnancy: « During antenatal care, I was afraid to be HIV positive and I thought the transmission of HIV/AIDS to the child was inevitable. Finally, the midwives convinced me to get tested and it was negative. Now I understand how it works! » She says proudly, before adding « some women do not believe vaccines work and neglect the health of their children. I know that if I respect the calendar of vaccinations, my child will be protected.  »

In Chad, infant and maternal mortality rates remain among the highest in the world. According to the latest available statistics, maternal mortality rate is 1,084 deaths per 100,000 live births. Less than 20% of women are giving birth assisted by qualified healthcare personnel. Infant mortality is just as worrying, one in five children do not reach their fifth birthday.

Roselyne Tallot humbly describes the results of her center « every month, we assist one hundred and fifty births, more than seven hundred antenatal consultations and two hundred HIV/AIDS tests. The situation is harsh but my staff is fearless and together we are facing the daily challenges.  »

« The delivery of my baby was quite difficult because she came with the feet first, but the nurses have reacted quickly. They called the ambulance to pick me up and I was transferred to the Mother and Child Hospital. Finally everything went well and my daughter is super healthy! » Concludes Ablamti, joyful.

Aucune femme ne doit mourir en donnant la vie

Par Badre Bahaji

Le centre de santé revitalisé d’Atrone, un espace vital pour les mères et les enfants de N’Djaména

N’Djaména – 11 mai 2015. Ablamti Fanta, 29 ans, vend des pagnes au grand marché pendant que ces deux plus grands enfants de cinq et neuf ans sont à l’école. Sa petite dernière, Halali Adora, six mois, l’accompagne au marché tous les jours. Mais en cette chaude matinée, elles ne sont pas allées au marché mais au centre de santé d’Atrone pour se faire vacciner: «Une tante m’a conseillé de venir ici quand je suis tombée enceinte et j’ai été suivie jusqu’à mon accouchement. Le centre est vraiment bien, les femmes sont accueillantes et prennent le temps de conseiller les mamans qui sont très jeunes parfois. Le matériel est neuf et on respecte vraiment l’hygiène ici.»

Roselyne Tallot est la Sage-Femme Principale, responsable du centre de santé urbain d’Atrone en périphérie de N’Djaména. «La revitalisation du centre a permis de rénover nos infrastructures, notre équipement mais aussi de remotiver les équipes et de mieux accueillir les patients. C’est important d’être proche d’eux. »

Des solutions simples existent pour freiner la mortalité maternelle, néonatale et infantile. Pourtant, trop de mamans et d’enfants meurent au Tchad. Le Fonds français Muskoka soutient l’accès aux soins de santé de qualité et le renforcement du système de santé au Tchad. Le Fonds a notamment permis de financer la revitalisation, l’équipement et la formation des personnels de centaines de centres de santé urbains, comme celui d’Atrone, sur tout le territoire.

Ablamti Fanta décrit sa grossesse : « Pendant la consultation prénatale, j’avais peur de me faire dépister et je pensais que la transmission du VIH/Sida à l’enfant était inévitable. Finalement, les sages-femmes m’ont bien expliqué, je me suis fait dépister et je suis négative. Je comprends comment ça marche maintenant», dit-elle, fièrement, avant d’ajouter « certaines femmes ne croient pas à la vaccination et négligent la santé de leurs enfants. J’ai changé d’avis sur la vaccination aussi parce que j’ai compris qu’en respectant le calendrier des vaccinations, mon enfant sera mieux protégé.»

Le Tchad compte parmi les pays au monde dont les indicateurs en matière de santé maternelle et infantile sont les plus préoccupants. Selon les dernières statistiques disponibles[1], le taux de mortalité maternelle est de 1.084 décès pour 100.000 naissances vivantes et seulement une femme sur cinq accouche en présence d’un personnel qualifié. La mortalité infantile est tout aussi inquiétante, un enfant sur cinq n’atteint pas son cinquième anniversaire.

Roselyne Tallot décrit humblement les résultats de son établissement « Dans le centre, tous les mois, nous faisons environ cent cinquante accouchements, plus de sept cent consultations prénatales et deux cent dépistages. Le rythme est difficile mais le personnel a le courage et la volonté pour faire face aux défis quotidiens. »

« L’accouchement a été un peu difficile parce qu’elle avait les pieds en avant. Les infirmières ont vite réagi, elles ont appelé l’ambulance qui est venu me chercher et on m’a transféré à l’hôpital Mère et Enfant. Finalement tout s’est bien passé et ma fille est en excellente santé !» conclut-Ablamti, réjouie.