Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Endemic/Epidemic disease
- Healthcare exclusion
This is an excerpt from MSF-USA's 2013 Annual Report:
In Uganda, the rate of HIV infection is on the rise again, after decreasing for many years. The country has also had to host large numbers of refugees arriving from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
After several years of progress in the fight against HIV, and large increases in the number of people being tested and treated for the virus, the rate of new infections has risen since 2010. Test kits and condoms are difficult to obtain in several areas of the country; meanwhile it is estimated that one-third of women and half of men with HIV are not aware of their status. Specialized care, such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and the combined treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and severe malnutrition, is often unavailable.
In West Nile region, the prevalence of HIV among adults aged 15 to 49 is about five percent and has almost doubled since 2005. MSF has been working in the region to help improve access to care and reduce HIV-related mortality.
For several years, MSF teams have treated people with HIV and TB through a program based at the Arua regional referral hospital. Care is provided to people living in the district as well as to a significant number of patients from neighboring DRC. Activities include PMTCT and ensuring people infected with both HIV and TB receive the necessary integrated care.
After a 12-year presence in Arua, MSF has started to hand over medical activities to local authorities and their partner SUSTAIN, and will close the project in July 2014. This follows both an increase in the local ability to provide medical care for people with HIV and TB and a reorientation of MSF’s work in the country.
Emergency care for refugees
The conflict in North Kivu province, DRC, caused between 40,000 and 50,000 refugees to cross into western Uganda between May and the end of July. An estimated 22,000 people reached the Bubukwanga transit camp, near Bundibugyo. Originally designed for 12,500 people, the camp lacked sufficient shelters, latrines, and drinking water for the increased numbers. MSF began providing medical care in July. Patients were suffering mainly from respiratory infections, malaria, and diarrhea. Teams also built latrines and trucked in water. Some refugees have since been transferred by the Ugandan authorities to the Kyangwali camp to ease pressure on resources. MSF provided healthcare to the 33,000 people in Kyangwali camp from September to the end of November. A total of 25,000 consultations were conducted and 1,500 people were admitted to hospital.
At the end of 2013, MSF had 358 staff in Uganda. MSF has been working in the country since 1986.
“I came from Bunia in DRC, 200 miles from here. I come here to get ARV drugs but transport is too expensive, so I’ve stayed with my sister in Arua for the past six months.
Every two months I come here to collect my free treatment from MSF. My six-year-old daughter tested HIV positive first; that’s how I found out I was sick too. She stays with me; we are both under treatment. In the community, there are people that accept us and others that stigmatize. In Bunia there is no free treatment and I cannot work at the moment.”