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MSF in Guatemala, 2001
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Approach to AIDS Unites Advocacy and Action
Over 60% of Guatemalans live in rural areas, often in poverty and with difficult access to basic health care. Poor people in urban areas are no less vulnerable. MSF work benefits marginalized people in both rural and urban settings, with special focus on the growing threat of AIDS.
AIDS Care and Prevention
Advocacy has joined direct patient care as the backbone of MSF's AIDS-related work in Guatemala. As part of the organization's Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, MSF recently advised the Guatemalan government on the definition of an AIDS law and an Industrial Property law, which covers drug patents.
At Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, the capital, MSF has begun antiretroviral treatment for 70 AIDS patients and treats opportunistic infections in about 400 people. In Cohatepeque, in Quetzaltenango department, MSF supports the "Proyecto Vida" treatment center, running external consultations and donating drugs for 250 AIDS patients.
In Hospicio San Jose, just outside Guatemala City, MSF is in charge of treating and caring for AIDS patients. The team offers consultations as well as antiretroviral treatment for children and adults. A similar program at Hospicio Marco Antonio in Guatemala City ended in late 2000.
Prevention of HIV/AIDS is also important. For schools and health care centers in Cohatepeque and Guatemala City, the MSF team has produced self-learning guides, organized workshops for local medical staff, and run public awareness activities.
In April 2001, MSF began a medical and legal program to assist undocumented people migrating north through Guatemala from Central and South America. In San Marcos department, near the Mexican border, MSF works with a local NGO that offers medical and legal aid to transmigrants, both those on their way to Mexico as well as some of the 300 people who are returned by the Mexican authorities each day.
In an effort to reduce mother and child mortality rates, MSF runs rural primary health care programs in Frontera, Izabal province, and Champerico, in the southeast. Work in Frontera is expected to end by the end of 2001.
At Tzite Clinic in Guatemala City, adolescents living on the street are offered medical aid and social and psychological support. MSF also runs the therapeutic crèche "Casa del Patojo" in the slum of Lomas de Santa Faz. Children receive medical assistance, and they and their families receive psychological support.
MSF also works in ten marginal settlements of Guatemala City to reduce the risk of epidemic outbreaks, floods, and landslides.