Healthcare in remote areas of Niger

23 February 2023

During the second year of the project, the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) has taken the lead in linking health services to its efforts to safeguard both the wildlife and the people sharing the places where it works. The humanitarian missions are now led in the Gadabeji Biosphere Reserve (GBR) and the Aïr and Ténéré National Natural Reserve (ATNNR), two protected areas in Niger. SCF joined forces with ESAFRO (Education et Santé sans Frontières), a non-profit that works in Niger, as well as with the local healthcare authorities, to provide these services. In 2022, the partnership has successfully carried out three healthcare and one dental care missions, benefitting 544 people.

The missions’ focus is to provide health care to communities for whom accessibility to medical centers is difficult. The first healthcare mission was conducted from the 19th to the 22nd of February 2022 around the Gadabeji Biosphere Reserve, located in central Niger. It was led two health workers from the area, accompanied by SCF and the ESAFRO team. In total, five camps and villages were visited, and 148 patients were provided with medical care, including 83 women and 33 children.

The second healthcare mission was also conducted around the Gadabeji Biosphere Reserve from the 20th to the 24th of August 2022 and was again led by the same health workers. In total, eight camps and villages were visited, including five that had been visited in February. 151 patients were provided with medical care, including 60 women and 57 children. An important number of patients, including children, were dewormed and lots of cases of malaria were treated, due to the rainy season. In each camp the medical team was raising wareness on the use of mosquito nets to prevent malaria, mainly at this time of the year. Children also received warm clothing.

The third healthcare mission was conducted in the Aïr & Tenere National Nature Reserve (ATNNR, northern Niger) from the 1st to the 9th of October 2022, and was led by, a nurse from the area. Five villages were visited and 100 people provided with medical care, including 73 women.

This year’s dental care mission was conducted in the ATNNR, by a dental surgeon from Zinder, from the 1st to the 9th of October 2022. In total, 145 patients were examined, including 122 women and 23 men. In total 516 bad teeth, 42 stumps, 17 bad positioned teeth and 86 floating teeth were removed, and 215 teeth were temporarily filled during the mission. In addition to treating patients, sensitization on oral and dental care was provided to the population.

In each village, SCF staff also engaged with the population to raise awareness about the protection of existing biodiversity in the reserves, explaining that the health missions are part of a broader development approach, which also includes the fight against poaching and the reintroduction of threatened species.