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MSF in Burkina Faso, 2001
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Meningitis Epidemic Strikes the East
Burkina Faso was hit hard by the meningitis epidemic that struck Africa's "meningitis belt" in early 2001. More than 12,000 people contracted the disease, and 1,700 people succumbed. MSF, already present in the country in Ouagadougou, the capital, and the district of Sindou, responded to the crisis.
A small team supervised vaccination and public information efforts in eight districts in the eastern part of the country, where the epidemic hit. About 1.5 million people were vaccinated during the campaign.
Over the last year, MSF continued its regular programs in Burkina Faso. In Ouagadougou, 400 children and young people living on the streets receive medical care and social support. MSF provides medical care in the streets and supports several medical and reception centers. An information campaign targets people who come in close contact with the children, including police, authorities, hospital workers, and people living near the gathering points of the children. MSF also helped produce a film with the street children, which will be broadcast throughout the country on national television in fall 2001.
Far to the southwest of the capital, the newly established Sindou health district suffers from lack of medical material and lack of well-trained medical staff. MSF has been working since early 2000 to train health staff, and improve care given at first- and second-level health facilities, including health posts, clinics, and the hospital in the city of Sindou, the capital of the district. Community participation in all aspects of health care provision is a key part of the MSF program.
MSF plans to start an AIDS program in Ouagadougou in fall 2001, focusing on voluntary counseling and testing, patient care, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.