Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict
  • Endemic/Epidemic disease
  • Health care exclusion
  • Natural disaster

Our work

This is an excerpt from MSF-USA's 2013 Annual Report:

Healthcare remains difficult to access for India’s most isolated and marginalized populations. 

Longstanding, low-intensity conflict in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh has led to population displacement and reduced access to healthcare. MSF teams continued to bring basic healthcare to people in villages through weekly mobile clinics in southern Chhattisgarh, and those living in displacement camps on the Andhra Pradesh side of the border. Patients suffered mainly from skin infections, general body pain, respiratory tract infections, and malaria. A mother and child health program offered antenatal care, immunizations, and nutritional support for pregnant women and children in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. Screening, diagnosis and treatment for tuberculosis (TB) were also available. In November, a clinic providing basic healthcare was opened in Mallampeta, a remote village on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In 2013, MSF carried out nearly 52,600 consultations and treated approximately 8,465 people with malaria in the region.

An MSF doctor examines a young patient at the women’s clinic run once a week in Kashmir. © Giulio Di Sturco/VII Mentor

Healthcare in Nagaland

Until recently there had been few health services available in remote Nagaland state, where the years of insurgency had stunted the area’s development. Since 2010, MSF has supported Mon district hospital by refurbishing the buildings and upgrading key services including pharmacy and medical waste management, the laboratory, infection control measures, and water and sanitation. MSF has also provided staff training to improve medical management, with special focus on sexual and reproductive health and TB. The team carried out 30,365 outpatient consultations, assisted more than 680 deliveries and treated 15 patients for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in 2013. The project has been recognized by the government and local community for the significant impact it has had on people’s access to healthcare in Mon district.

Improving access to HIV and TB care

In Mumbai, MSF continued to provide treatment for patients with HIV and co-infections who have been excluded from government health services. In 2013, however, the focus shifted to responding to the public health crisis posed by DR-TB in the city. MSF treated patients with the most severe forms of DR-TB. The strategy is to treat a small but acute group of patients who cannot access the government healthcare system, and to use evidence from operational research to encourage the government to find ways and means to provide treatment for these people.

MSF runs a clinic offering outpatient care that provides third-line antiretroviral (ARV) therapy for patients with second-line ARV failure and treats patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis B or C, or DR-TB. In addition, MSF supports a government TB hospital with infection control and counseling services. Approximately 300 patients received treatment in 2013, including nearly 160 patients on second-line and third-line HIV regimens, approximately 50 patients with HIV and DR-TB co-infection, and about 80 patients with DR-TB.

In the northeastern state of Manipur, where the prevalence of adult HIV infections is the highest in the country, MSF offers HIV and TB care in three clinics in Churanchandpur and Chandel districts. One of the clinics is situated in the town of Moreh, right on the border with Myanmar. More than 560 patients started treatment for HIV this year (a total of 1,244 patients were receiving treatment by the end of 2013), 299 people began treatment for TB and 30 for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). 

Mental healthcare

Decades of conflict in Kashmir have taken a toll on people’s mental health, and needs persist for psychological support. A well-established MSF mental health program continued at five fixed locations in Srinagar and Baramulla districts. Teams also visited victims of violence in Srinagar hospitals and provided psychological first aid—ensuring basic psychological, social, and material needs were being met. Counseling services were launched in Pattan in June. A total of 2,530 individual mental health consultations were provided across the program.

Heavy rains and landslides in Uttarakhand state in mid-June caused significant flash flooding in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, and Pithogarh districts. The state is home to many holy Hindu sites and the majority of the estimated 10,000 people who lost their lives were pilgrims from all over India and the local population working with them. MSF set up a three-month program to support those suffering from acute distress in Rudraprayag district. More than 440 individual sessions and 37 group sessions were provided.

Treating kala azar and malnutrition in Bihar

People in Vaishali district, Bihar, live in an area where kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of an infected sandfly, is endemic. The infection is almost always fatal if left untreated. MSF began responding to kala azar in 2007, introducing L-AmB 20mg/kg (liposomal amphotericin B) as a first-line treatment at Sadar district hospital and five health clinics. More than 10,000 patients were treated, with an initial cure rate of 98 percent. Since 2012, MSF has collaborated with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), implementing a pilot project examining the safety and effectiveness of two combination therapies, as well as an alternative, single-shot dosage of L-AmB. Initial outcomes were encouraging and the pilot program will expand to additional districts. If these new drug regimens are proven effective and safe, the research could potentially change national treatment protocols for the disease.

In the Darbhanga district of Bihar, child malnutrition is a chronic and under-reported health crisis. MSF teams provide weekly treatment for children with severe acute malnutrition through a community-based program in Biraul block. In 2013, the program expanded to cover an additional four blocks. MSF also began building a malnutrition intensive care unit inside a teaching hospital in Darbhanga to treat the most severe cases. MSF continues to work with health authorities to define a model of care for children with severe acute malnutrition that can be implemented within the public health system. Over 13,000 children under the age of five have been treated in Darbhanga since 2009.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 672 staff in India. MSF has been working in the country since 1999.

Patient story

Gopal*, Mumbai

I was working as a cook when I was first diagnosed with drug-resistant TB. The treatment involved six months of injections every day. It was very difficult; every day there was pain.

After that I had to take 15 to 17 different tablets every day. I used to just stay at home. It has been six months now since I finished my treatment. Now I am free of tension and I want to earn money and live life properly. My family are happy because I’ve got my job back and I’m able to support them.

*The patient’s name has been changed.

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