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MSF in Mozambique, 2001
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Spotlight on Floods, But AIDS Will Not Go Away
For the second year in a row, floods struck Mozambique, still struggling to recover from a civil war that lasted from 1978 to 1992. The Zambezi River, which flows through four provinces in Mozambique, overflowed its banks in spring 2001 and forced nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes.
MSF helped evacuate people from their homes. Numerous emergency camps ranging in size from 200 to 7,000 displaced people were set up in the provinces of Manica, Tete, Zambezia, and Sofala. MSF activities differed according to each camp, and included running mobile health clinics and vaccination campaigns, managing medical supplies, setting up health posts, distributing materials for shelter, and setting up safe water and emergency sanitation systems.
Programs Tackle Alarming AIDS Epidemic
The floodwaters have receded, but the other emergency affecting Mozambique will not go away. It is HIV/AIDS. During the civil war, the life expectancy in Mozambique was 42 years. The AIDS epidemic has pushed it down to 38 years. Official estimates are that 16% of the population is HIV positive. Despite these alarming statistics, the epidemic has not been a top priority of the government. As of July 2001, use of antiretrovirals was still not allowed, even to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease.
MSF has started AIDS prevention and treatment programs in the capital city of Maputo as well as Lichinga and Tete provinces. MSF treats opportunistic infections, cares for AIDS patients, and supports them psychologically. Voluntary counseling and testing is encouraged. Radio programs, traveling exhibitions, and advocacy campaigns promote prevention.
MSF also helped build a rural hospital and expand a vaccination program in the district of Mutarara. A primary care program in Niassa province is expected to end in December 2001, and a cholera preparedness project in Cabo Delgado was completed in November 2000.