In the heart of Africa is the poorest country of the world according to UN data. 80% of the land is desert and the lower 20% is Sahel where the people struggle to grow crops. This last summer and fall they were affected by flooding from too much rain. Most farmers had good crops but an abundance of mosquitoes resulted in a malaria epidemic. Many died because of a lack of medical treatment. Life in Niger is hard.
The national language is French because Niger was once a colony of France but multiple language groups exist around the country.
The first hospital Dr. Hobbs visited was CURE Children’s Hospital. They have 30 beds and treat mainly children. When they have a ‘Cleft Camp’, the hospital also treats adults who have not had their cleft lip or palates treated. One 33 year old gentleman’s wife left him because of the stigma and his appearance. He was hoping he would get his wife back after his bilateral cleft lip repair. You may see his photos below
The second hospital Dr. Hobbs served is in south central Niger and 2 hours by plane from the capital. Patients come many miles to get treatment. Some even drive from neighboring Nigeria to be treated. This small, 100 bed, hospital treats approximately 100,000 patients annually and treated 1000 patients the day before Dr. Hobbs arrived. This was one of the few hospitals in the country that had anti-malarial medication that could be purchased to treat their malaria.
A view of life in Niger: