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MSF in Mauritania, 2001
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Long-Awaited Clinic Serves Nouakchott Shantytown
The "Route de l'espoir" (road of hope) runs through Bouhdida, a shantytown on the outskirts of Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital. It is here, in this corner of the capital, that a clinic constructed by MSF on a piece of land given by the community finally opened its doors in February 2001. The clinic serves about 10,000 people, many of whom were displaced from other areas of Nouakchott after severe flooding in 1995.
An Impatient Wait for a Clinic
The people of Bouhdida had been waiting impatiently for the clinic to open—public health facilities in the area are scarce, and the hospital itself is a long, expensive cab-ride away. In a study undertaken by MSF last year, people from the community expressed time and again their need for a clinic.
The needs of women in the shantytown are particularly strong. Distance from adequate health facilities and the costs involved in getting there have often meant that women gave birth with no outside assistance, and many babies died. The new clinic has a delivery room, examination rooms, and a pharmacy. From its opening in February to the end of May, 29 babies were born there. A local nurse, midwife, and health assistant work with an expatriate doctor to offer nearly 30 consultations a day. Members of the community manage the facility together with the regional health authorities.
MSF also provides food, drugs, and staff supervision at the Nutritional Recuperation and Education Center (CREN) in Saada, in the same area of the capital. Fifteen malnourished babies are cared for every month. MSF is also looking at possible avenues of work in Guidimaka, an underserved area in southern Mauritania, and in Nouadhibou, a coastal city that is a transit point for many people from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Europe.
MSF has been working in Mauritania since 1994.