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MSF in Guatemala, 2002
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Care for society's "undesirables" including people with AIDS
Economic, social and political deterioration in Guatemala in recent years has favored an increase in human rights violations and general insecurity, with society's 'undesirables' – poor people, migrants, street children – at particular risk. With about 40% of the population having no access to basic health services, MSF focuses its attention on some of the most vulnerable, including people affected by HIV/AIDS.
In the capital Guatemala City, the Tzite Clinic continues to provide medical and psychological assistance to street children and young people. In Lomas de Santa Faz, one of the city's slums, MSF is in charge of the therapeutic crèche "Casa del Patojo," where children at high risk of ending up in the street, as well as their parents, receive medical assistance and psychological support.
MSF's primary health care program in Champerico, on the Pacific coast, is focused on improving access to mother and child health care through consultations, vaccination and the training of local medical staff. A similar program in RÃo Dulce, Izabal department, ended as planned in February 2002, after three years.
The fight against HIV/AIDS has gained force in Guatemala over the last several years. At several sites around the country, MSF runs integral HIV/AIDS care programs, which include antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for some 150 patients. ARV treatment began in 2001 at Roosevelt Hospital and at an MSF clinic in Guatemala City, and in April 2002 at the clinic of Proyecto Vida, in Coatepeque. The teams also treat opportunistic infections associated with HIV/AIDS, train local medical staff, and offer regular external consultations, including voluntary counseling and testing. Some patients receive palliative care and ARV follow-up through home visits. In addition to its hands-on medical work, MSF also helped organize Central America's Regional AIDS Congress in Guatemala City in November 2001.
The first phase of a project to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters in marginalized areas of Guatemala City ended in February 2002; a second phase focusing on three new neighborhoods began in May 2002.
Guatemala has become a key route for undocumented migration to the United States. Through December 2001, MSF provided medical and legal support for people in transit in San Marcos department.
MSF has worked in Guatemala since 1982.