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MSF in Belgium, 2002
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Health centers running at full capacity
MSF's ongoing projects in Belgium are designed to increase access to health care, whether the barriers to this are administrative, cultural, psychological or financial.
Over the past year, some 3,100 disadvantaged people, asylum seekers and refugees have sought medical help at MSF "Access to Healthcare" centers in the capital Brussels, Liège and Antwerp. Running at full capacity, the Brussels and Antwerp centers have been forced to limit the number of consultations per session.
The program was created in 1991 to provide medical support for destitute or homeless Belgians. However, 92.5% of the people now attending the centers are recently arrived asylum seekers and migrants without legal status.
Many need psychological support to overcome trauma experienced in their home countries or due to their uncertain residency status in Belgium. MSF provides diagnosis and treatment by doctors, complemented by a social orientation to enable patients to seek further treatment autonomously and by initial psychological counseling for those who need it most. Translators help to provide this in the patients' mother tongue where possible, with Russian and Arabic most in demand.
Since 1998, project "Mporé" has provided psychological support for survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide living in Belgium. The project became part of a new non-profit organization, "Ulysse," in late 2001.
MSF's "Elisa" center in Brussels, which opened in 1988, offers free, anonymous HIV-screening with counseling.
MSF began working in Belgium in 1987.