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MSF in Ethiopia, 2002
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TB programs and meningitis vaccinations reach millions
Ethiopians continue to be affected by endemic diseases such tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and meningitis, chronic malnutrition, as well as lingering tension on the country's border with Eritrea. At the same time, deteriorating socio-economic conditions make health care virtually inaccessible for the most vulnerable people. Against this backdrop, MSF works to diagnose, treat and prevent TB, HIV/AIDS and meningitis, while work on kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), a deadly parasitic disease endemic in several areas of the country, has ended. The closure of this and other projects has made room for new initiatives, including efforts to establish a long-term program targeting chronic malnutrition. MSF also responds to nutritional emergencies as they arise.
Ethiopia has one of the highest instances of TB cases in the world. A TB treatment program begun in Somali National State in 1996 expanded in 2002 to several additional health centers and clinics; the entire program now covers about 2 million people. In 2001, 2,000 people received treatment and over 100 health workers were trained in managing TB and leprosy, another mycobacterial disease. MSF works closely with an Ethiopian NGO specializing in mother and child care and development to ensure that displaced people being treated in MSF's TB program have food and shelter.
Since early 2001, MSF has worked in Galaha to treat TB among the primarily nomadic Afar people. About 400 people are under treatment there at any one time. MSF hopes to construct a permanent TB treatment center in the region. MSF's newest tuberculosis effort began in January 2001 in Sekota, where TB and nutrition are the primary concerns.
Ethiopia is at one end of the "meningitis belt" that stretches across sub-Saharan Africa to Senegal and is regularly hit by outbreaks of this potentially fatal infection of the brain membrane. In spring 2002, as the disease once again reached epidemic levels, MSF carried out mass vaccination campaigns in Tigray region and the zones of Kefa, North Gondar, Sidama and South Omo. Approximately 1.2 million people were vaccinated.
Since early 2001, MSF has focused on diagnosis and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS among vulnerable people. Work is centered on the northern town of Humera, in 14 clinics in Tigray region and in another 22 clinics in the capital Addis Ababa, where prostitutes are also offered peer education in reproductive health and family planning.
From 1997 through mid-2002, MSF was deeply involved in diagnosis and treatment of kala azar in several areas of Ethiopia. From 1997 through fall 2001, MSF treated more than 2,500 people in the Humera area. In early 2002, a progressive increase in the number of people admitted to the hospital prompted MSF to give additional support to active case finding and referral. This project was turned over to the Ministry of Health in May. MSF continues to supply drugs to the Humera hospital for treatment of the disease.
Basic care and water/sanitation
In November 2001, MSF began providing basic health care to people living in the conflict-prone area of Arero/Udeth, in Oromiya region. Since late 2000, MSF has been helping build wells and latrines in Adfer. An additional water and sanitation project is ongoing in Sekota.
Changing needs prompted MSF to phase out several of its projects in Ethiopia over the last year. A hospital support project in Woldiya closed in December 2001, as did a surgery project in Dubti. In March 2002, MSF finished work in the town of Mankush as it became clear that the target population of Sudanese refugees was becoming more integrated into the local community or transferred to a new camp. A primary care project among the Bodi, Dimi and Mursi people in Salamago is expected to end in December 2002.
MSF has been working in Ethiopia since 1984.