February 7, 1999
Aiding Victims of Colombian Earthquake
MSF provided emergency aid immediately following the earthquake that hit western Colombia two weeks ago. A 20-person international MSF team is now delivering medicines, surgical supplies, clean drinking water, and shelter materials, as well as primary health care and surgical support, to the towns of Tebaida and Calarca near Armenia. The teams are reaching about 80,000 Colombians in this region. As the first relief agency on the scene, MSF has helped to coordinate the activities of other non-governmental organizations and facilitate access to hard-to-reach areas of the affected region. MSF plans to continue this emergency operation for approximately six months and will then examine the possibility of setting up new projects.
Surgical Program Reopened in Sierra Leone
An MSF team was able to resume its surgical program in Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, late last week. The team had evacuated in December, 1998, due to intense fighting between rebels and government forces. Upon arrival at Connaught Hospital, MSF found at least 200 victims of bullet wounds and mutilations in urgent need of surgical care. Team members performed 12 surgeries on the first day. One team member is also providing surgical support to Netlands, a second hospital in Freetown. MSF has also donated medicines, mattresses, and blankets to a health clinic set up in the Freetown football stadium where an estimated 12,000 people have gathered for safety. Conditions in the stadium are worsening and there is an increase in the number of health problems due to poor hygiene conditions. In Kambia, MSF is running a medical and nutritional program as well as a water and sanitation project for the local people and 10,000 displaced persons who have fled there from the interior.
Safe Sex Campaign Launched in Moscow
MSF is collaborating with a Russian non-governmental organization called "Focus" on a new Safe Sex campaign around the slogan "A Sensible Person Makes a Sensible Choice." MSF has been working closely with Focus for the last eight months to develop this campaign as a follow-up to the successful "Safe Sex—My Choice" educational campaign begun in Moscow in June 1997. The new campaign has produced two animated television commercials, a radio commercial, outdoor advertising, information leaflets, and pocket calendars targeting young people aged 15 to 25. Launched first in Moscow, this initiative will serve as a model for campaigns in other Russian cities. The number of cases of young Russians infected with the AIDS virus has increased dramatically in the past three years. In 1998, there were over 10,300 people registered as HIV positive; in 1997 the corresponding figure was just 4,330. The spread of other sexually transmitted diseases has reached epidemic proportions as well, with syphilis increasing 70-fold in the past few years.
Post-Hurricane Rehabilitation Projects in El Salvador
Now that emergency interventions in El Salvador following Hurricane Mitch have ended, MSF has begun a new program to rehabilitate water and sanitation facilities in the country. An MSF team is cleaning and improving wells in four provinces—Ahuachapan and Sonsonate in the west and La Paz and San Vicente in the east. The team plans to restore 900 wells and improve water quality for 75,000 El Salvadorians in the next six months. MSF will also be installing sanitation facilities in three villages that have previously had no public sanitation system. A hygiene education course for villagers and local health workers is also a key component of the program.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)