MILLWOOD, Va., April 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Project HOPE says the health and survival of millions of women and children are at stake as famine looms in Nigeria. Amid growing fears of mass starvation in parts of Africa and Yemen where conflict, drought, and economic instability have combined to create the most severe food crisis in decades, Project HOPE deployed a team of health and nutrition experts to assess the immediate humanitarian needs in northeast Nigeria.

"Sadly early warning does not always result in early action.  We mustn't wait for a famine declaration to respond in scale to this unprecedented crisis," said Chris Skopec, Executive Vice President of Project HOPE.

Project HOPE has been working with Nigerian health authorities to identify how to quickly enhance the capacity of the health infrastructure in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, the population of which has more than doubled due to the influx of people seeking refuge from the militant group Boko Haram.  

A steep rise in malnutrition rates, along with a sharp increase in waterborne diseases, including diarrhea and cholera, have been reported in the state as the number of people who were forced from their homes and had their livelihoods destroyed by Boko Haram has grown to nearly two million.  Their plight is exacerbated by a compromised health care system with only 40 of the previously existing 127 primary health care facilities functional and more than 40 percent of secondary health facilities destroyed.

The United Nations meanwhile reports that approximately 4.7 million people in Nigeria are in need of emergency food assistance and lack basic health services in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.  It warns that another half a million could suffer the same fate in Nigeria by June this year if nothing is done.

Project HOPE has been improving health outcomes in Nigeria since 2014.  Its recent history of responding to health emergencies includes the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, the refugee crisis in the Middle East, and natural disaster responses in Haiti, Nepal, and the Philippines. 

About Project HOPE
Established in 1958, Project HOPE is a global health and disaster relief organization that transforms health care needs of vulnerable populations and saves lives. We work by enabling health care workers around the world to have the greatest positive impact on the health of the people they serve. Project HOPE works at the epicenter of today's greatest health challenges including infectious and chronic diseases, disasters and health crises, maternal and child health services and  policies that shape the future of  health care service delivery.

Learn more about our work at follow us on Facebook and Twitter and listen to our podcast Global Health CheckUp.

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Geraldine Carroll
Tel. +1-540-257-3746