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MSF in Mali, 2002
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Generic drug now available to treat trachoma
In early 2002, a generic treatment for the eye disease trachoma became available in Mali for the first time. This important step in the fight against blindness was made possible through cooperation between the MSF team in the field, Malian health authorities and the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
MSF has played an active role in the treatment and prevention of the debilitating disease trachoma, which is the second leading cause of blindness in Mali. Trachoma is spread through contact with infected secretions from the eyes, and work in previous years has focused on prevention.
Recently, however, MSF has redirected its policy towards immediate, widespread treatment. Because locally available medicines have traditionally been prohibitively expensive, MSF has begun to import from India a high quality, generic version of the drug azithromycin in cooperation with local health officials. Distribution is being done in Bankassa, in the region of Mopti, and covers a population of 230,000. The mass distribution and accompanying assessment is being organized by Epicentre, an epidemiological research center closely affiliated with MSF.
Primary care projects continue in Ansongo, where the population of 100,000 is mainly nomadic. In the region of Gao, MSF supports a nursing school which provides health staff for Gao, Tombouctou and Kidal in northern Mali. In the southwestern area of Sélingue, MSF continues to work toward autonomy for Kangara hospital.
MSF has been active in Mali since 1983