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Some populations in need remain out of reach due to insecurity



An MSF team member examines a child during a mobile clinic in Bukama, North Kivu. Democratic Republic of Congo 2007 © François Dumont /MSF

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When the violence started on December 23 in Kurram Agency, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assessed the situation and began responding to the needs of the population. This is the second time within a year that sectarian clashes have resulted in prolonged insecurity and casualties.

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Since December 23, a sectarian clash has been underway in Kurram Agency, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan. Mortars have exploded within the vicinity of Alizai and Sadda hospitals, where the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides assistance.

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Since 1998, civilians in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been caught in the middle of a battle for control between local and foreign militias, the Congolese army, and UN forces. In late 2007, new waves of fighting began more massive displacements of an already weakened population.

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Clashes have forced tens of thousands to flee in search of safety, with many settling in the Rutshuru area. At the town hospital, MSF is handling a sharp increase in the number of patients.

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Southern Sudan has paid one of the highest prices among countries affected by meningitis this year. Several teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) are caring for those affected by the deadly epidemic and vaccinating the population at risk throughout a number of states in the region. To make matters worse, cholera is quickly progressing in a number of areas.

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With tuberculosis (TB) killing 1.7 million people and newly infecting nine million each year, this curable disease is far from being curbed. The HIV/AIDS pandemic exacerbates TB's scourge through co-infection, as does the increasing emergence of drug-resistant TB. The standard TB treatment available today is long and complex. It relies on drugs developed over forty years ago and takes six months for patients to complete, and the last four decades have brought nothing in the way of improvement.

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Caring for children with HIV/AIDS is charged with obstacles. The struggle begins with doctors not being able to tell whether antibodies found in a small baby's blood are from the mother or whether they suggest the child itself is infected with the virus. Frustrated with the situation, MSF has been cooperating with scientists working on a new technology.

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Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as African Sleeping Sickness, is a fatal and much neglected disease that continues to plague parts of Africa. The drug most commonly used to treat the disease is so toxic that it kills one in 20 patients. While a better drug exists, it is too complex to use in resource-poor settings. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sleeping sickness has made a disturbing comeback over the past few decades.

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