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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Nigeria's neglected public health crisis?: 06/19/2017

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

An ongoing civil war in northeastern Nigeria is creating a lesser known public health emergency with millions of medically underserved adults and children, which Science describes as 'Nigeria's invisible crisis' in a recent news story.

Science explains a current civil war between the Nigerian government and the insurgent group Boko Haram has resulted in 5.1 million severely malnourished citizens. At a makeshift feeding center run by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Science reports green, yellow and red measuring tapes around a child's upper arm signify good nourishment, moderate acute malnutrition, and severe acute malnutrition respectively.

Science adds the humanitarian crisis within three states in northeastern Nigeria has displaced 1.8 million persons and 8.5 million currently are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Science describes the medical conditions in the impacted states as a vicious cycle. Science notes food, water, and sanitation are scare or missing. Further, the makeshift camps where people are forced to stay (and we quote): 'provide a perfect breeding ground for disease' (end of quote).

Science reports child malnutrition within the refugee camps fosters infections with little patient capacity to fight them as well as few medications. As a result, Science explains measles and malaria epidemics rage and polio is resurfacing. Most recently, acute respiratory infections and diarrhea complications have spread significantly.

A pediatric specialist with Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF) in Paris tells Science (and we quote): 'child mortality is off the charts, two, three, four times above the emergency threshold' (end of quote).

Science reports the extreme conditions also demonstrate the clinically pernicious results when children are exposed to malnutrition and malaria simultaneously.

While the UN asked for $1 billion in medical and relief aid for the impacted states, Science reports few are optimistic that the funds will be available in the near future.

Science adds the crisis stands out because in comparison with other medical and food relief efforts in international crisis zones, the conditions in northeast Nigeria have been neglected. Science notes the reasons partially stem from: the intensity of the civil war; past inattention to the region's large Muslim population; the comparative lack of oil and natural resources within the three state area; as well as the Nigerian government's limited public health and relief resources.

Science concludes the medical crisis in northeastern Nigeria may get worse before some recovery occurs, but the news story is one of the first to document the degree of clinical and humanitarian suffering in a little known area of West Africa.

Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov's malnutrition health topic page is a gateway to addressing the health consequences from not having enough to eat. For example, the Nemours Foundation provides a website with foundational information about hunger and malnutrition within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's malnutrition health topic page. More specifically, the Nemours Foundation provides helpful information about responding to child hunger within the 'child' section of MedlinePlus.gov's malnutrition health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's malnutrition health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Clinical trials that may be occurring in your area can be found in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about malnutrition as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's malnutrition health topic page, please type 'malnutrition' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'malnutrition (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus also has a health topic page devoted to international health.

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It was nice to be with you! Please join us here next week and here's to your health!