The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has established a hospital in Bama, a town in Borno State, formerly occupied by Boko Haram insurgents, as part of its medical outreach.
Bama is home to 25, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), consisting mostly women and kids.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, gave the state governor, Mr Kashim Shettima, a tour of the hospital, equipped to meet the health needs of the residents.
The Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the coordinating agency for humanitarian services in the state, believe that collaboration between sister agencies and support from the Nigerian Air Force medical team is responsible for the seamless defeat of malnutrition in the camp.
“The government of Borno State in conjunction with NEMA and the 31 NGOS working together were able to work together. So many tents have been built, water supply has improved and we now have two health facilities and food system has improved to meet the needs of this IDP camp.”
The health facility, initiated by the Nigerian Air Force in Bama, is an extension of the Dalori IDP camp in Maiduguri, which has been conducting surgeries for sick IDPS, at no cost, where necessary.
Explaining the vision behind the Air Force Medical Outreach, Air Chief Abubakar, said he believes that gaining the confidence of locals in the area of operations is key to winning the counter insurgency war.
Bama and Gwoza local councils of Borno State have the highest number of IDPS living in camps and the host communities.
Governor Kashim Shettima has assured that the state government is engaging in fruitful partnerships with the Presidential Initiative for rebuilding North East (PINE) and others, to facilitate the quick return of IDPS and closure of camps.
The Nigerian Air Force is a beneficiary of a N20 million grant from PINE, in support of its medical outreach.
Malnutrition among IDPs in Borno State was first reported in the unofficial camp in Bama Local Council Area.
A large part of the population of the IDPs in the Bama camp are former captives of the insurgents, who regained their freedom following intensive military operations.
At least 3, 000 malnourished persons, mostly kids, had to be evacuated to Maiduguri, the capital city for treatment and proper nutrition.
Nine weeks on, the narrative of the IDPS has changed, as they speak of changes in their diets and improved medicare.
Gohna Alkali, an IDP in the Bama camp said “we are no longer hungry, we now have food. We have doctors here taking care of us, and food and clothes we do not have any problems. They give us spaghetti for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and semovita for dinner we are grateful to God”, he said.