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MSF in Rwanda, 2002
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First program reducing transmission of HIV/AIDS to babies
Eight years after the genocide, Rwanda remains a poor, over-populated country desperately short of qualified medical staff. Fortunately, there have been signs it may disengage from the conflict in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, urgent health problems such as AIDS, which affects over 11% of those aged 15 to 49, clamor for response.
In April 2002, MSF opened the first program in Rwanda to offer voluntary counseling, testing and prevention activities to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, as well as treating AIDS-related infections. Operating from a Kigali health center, the new program complements MSF's ongoing AIDS awareness work in primary schools in Kigali and Cyangugu.
MSF continues to train local counselors in directing group therapy for survivors of the 1994 genocide. Mostly women, the participants struggle to heal from the trauma of losing relatives, being raped and, in many cases, contracting HIV/AIDS as a result. Some 250 women were taking part in summer 2002.
In late summer 2001, an MSF surgical team performed over 140 operations in Ruhengeri hospital after increased fighting in the northwest. Many of the wounded were child soldiers. Other emergency responses included aid to survivors of the Mount Nyiragongo eruption in January 2002 and floods in Bweyeye region near Bugarama in Cyangugu province in May 2002.
MSF is setting up a project to prevent cholera by improving the supply of drinking water from Lake Kivu. Support to Bushenge health district in Cyangugu ended in early 2002.
MSF has worked in Rwanda since 1991.