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Chad is Africa’s fifth largest nation, and home to more than 14 million people. Since 2003, the nation's primary source of export earnings has been crude oil.

Since 2015, thousands of people in the Lake Chad region have been forced to flee their homes as a result of violent clashes between armed groups and Chadian military forces. Access to basic healthcare is limited in Chad, where malnutrition, malaria, and outbreaks of disease are common. MSF supports local hospital infrastructure and is active in upgrading water and sanitation services.

In the wake of humanitarian emergency

The Lake region remains fragile, and violence by Boko Haram in the area continues. The conditions of the displaced population have improved with the presence of other humanitarian organisations, and many people are returning home. However, the humanitarian needs remain and there is still a need for long-term services and solutions to allow returnees to reintegrate safely and with dignity.

Lake Chad: Life amidst a protracted crisis (Chad)

MSF is present in the east and south of Chad and have an emergency response unit (CERU) capable of delivering medical care in under 72 hours.

MSF teams are based in Baga Sola, Bol, Liwa and Kiskawa from where they run several mobile clinics providing basic healthcare and mental health support to the displaced and local population. The most common medical conditions seen in MSF clinics are linked to the difficult living conditions and the lack of housing and access to clean water.

Providing Essential Healthcare 

Making the journey to public health clinics in Chad can be expensive. Local clinics often don’t have the necessary medicines or enough trained staff, and despite a national free care policy for malnourished children there are often other hidden costs that make it impossible for people in this area to afford this essential care.

Chad has an extreme climate, and cultural traditions that often clash with the need for specialised medical care. Mothers often prefer to take their sick child to a religious leader rather than a health clinic.

MSF projects were established to fill the healthcare vacuum in the region, and to address the urgent needs of the population. MSF teams provided relief to hundreds of thousands of people living in precarious conditions, without access to drinking water, food, or adequate sanitation.

MSF has assisted in the management of nutrition programs, and has provided care for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS patients. 

Emergency nutrition program in N’Djamena

A focus on maternal and child health

The focus in many regions has been on specialist care for children, including treatment for severe malnutrition, as well as sexual and reproductive healthcare for women.

MSF has been supporting paediatric, maternity and laboratory services in regional hospitals. An important focus of the activities is on obstetrics, gynaecology and neonatal care; the teams have supported general medical, antenatal and nutrition clinics in health centres, in collaboration with health authorities.

Malnutrition is endemic across much of Chad, with almost half of child deaths in the country associated with the condition.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH), MSF is running mobile outpatient clinics for malnourished children aged between six months and five years old, providing services in villages across the Bokoro region. In Bokoro town, MSF has an Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre in an MoH Hospital, equipped with an intensive care unit.

In Bol, MSF upgraded the operating theatre and maternity ward at the regional hospital, where teams also supported the paediatric and nutrition departments. MSF supported reproductive healthcare services in Sawa district by raising awareness among traditional midwives of the importance of encouraging pregnant women to give birth at local health facilities. MSF also launched a preventive malaria treatment campaign for children under the age of five. 

Education rates are low with a national literacy rate of just 33% and most of the mothers we see here haven’t spent a day at school. Many don’t understand what it is that’s making their children ill. A short lesson on hygiene and nutrition is a core part of each mother’s visit to either our outpatient clinic or intensive care unit.

Benedicte La-Toumbayle
nurse at MSF’s therapeutic feeding centre and intensive care unit in Bokoro town

MSF participates in the distribution of hygiene kits in response to hepatitis E and cholera epidemics. Awareness about waterborne diseases, their treatment and prevention are a critical part of MSF’s presence. Many patients treated for cholera at MSF’s centres draw water from untreated sources as they work in nearby fields. Epidemics evolve rapidly and spread through regions. MSF treatment centres and emergency projects are regular and ongoing.

Find out more about Chad