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News for the Week of January 11, 1999
January 11, 1999
Kashin-Beck (Big-Bone) Disease Conference in Beijing
MSF will hold a conference on Kashin-Beck (Big-Bone) Disease on January 22 and 23 in Beijing, China. Kashin-Beck is a debilitating bone disease affecting several million people in a crescent-shaped region from southeastern Siberia to southwestern China. The pain and restricted movement caused by the disease can make it hard for people with Kashin-Beck to work, and in poor regions the disease has serious social and economic consequences. The causes of Kashin-Beck are still unknown, but most experts agree that three factors play a role: selenium deficiency, presence of fungi in grains, and organic matters in drinking water. Since 1992, MSF became the first organization to treat this disease through physical therapy and has since launched 60 treatment clinics in Tibet and trained 90 doctors.
Civilians Face Fears in Kosovo
MSF teams working in Kosovo report that tensions have increased in the past few days, and many people are afraid to leave their homes. The backbone of the MSF intervention in Kosovo are mobile clinics, which operate from Pristina, Pec and Prizren. Clinic teams typically consist of two to three local doctors, one nurse, and two drivers, travelling in two cars. Two international medical workers accompany the teams. The teams provide medical consultations and take essential drugs and medical supplies to clinics in remote villages, where access to health care is difficult. Teams visit villages every two weeks. MSF supplies essential drugs to 40 clinics run by the private Mother Theresa charity, to 15 state-run clinics, and to hospitals in Pristina, Pec, and Prizren. Since the end of November, MSF, together with local staff members, have vaccinated 4,841 children as part of a national campaign. In the Pec area, MSF is carrying out a well-cleaning project whereby private wells are pumped out and contamination removed. Up till December 23, 1998, 39 wells had been cleaned, and 15 chlorinated.
MSF Battles Cholera in Mozambique
In early November, a cholera outbreak appeared in the northern provinces of Mozambique (Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Zambezia and Nampula). By early January, more than 10,000 people had contracted the disease, and more than 500 had died. Cholera is an endemic disease in Mozambique, and the outbreak has continued to spread due to poor water and hygiene conditions. MSF is working closely with the Mozambican Ministry of Health to contain the outbreak. So far, we are supervising and assisting local staff, establishing cholera treatment centers, setting up a data collection process, supplying oral rehydration fluids, drinkable water, and disinfection equipment.
Two California Exhibits: Bosnian Children's Art & Street Children in Latin America
On January 20, 1999, two MSF art exhibits focusing on the lives of children in difficult circumstances will open in Santa Monica, California. The exhibits will be held at Santa Monica Place Shopping Center, Level 1 Community Focus Gallery and Level 12 above the food court in Santa Monica. An opening reception will be held on January 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the Center Court, Level 1. The exhibits will run through March 7, 1999.