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MSF in India, 2005
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In India, MSF is providing medical assistance to people who have limited access to health services due to conflict, displacement or natural disaster.
Providing care in conflict areas
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on the border with Pakistan, the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan has left many civilians suffering from mental health conditions related to their experiences with insecurity and violence. In addition, many people living in remote areas lack access to any medical care. MSF offers psychosocial support and counseling to individuals and families suffering from the conflict. Teams are also rehabilitating the infrastructure of hospitals and primary health care centers in some of the area's more remote villages.
Conflict also affects those living in the northeastern state of Manipur, bordering Myanmar. A combination of lawlessness, conflict and poverty has meant that most of the state's residents have minimal access to basic health services. Drug abuse is widespread and Manipur state has one of the country's highest HIV-prevalence rates. Although the Indian government limits access to Manipur for foreign citizens, MSF obtained permission in 2004 to work in the hilly Churachandpur district in the southwest corner of Manipur. The organization began with a project that treats people with malaria. In 2005, the team expanded its work to treat those with sexually transmitted and other infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).
In neighboring Assam state, conflict between indigenous groups and minority, immigrant populations has resulted in the displacement of thousands. Lack of access to health care and ineffective malaria treatment have led to high death rates in the state. MSF provides basic health care to populations displaced by conflict and living in makeshift camps, as well as residents in remote communities.
For the past six years, MSF has supported India's TB program in the city of Bombay, in Maharashtra state. In addition to building laboratory capacity and developing a reference network among health partners, MSF has conducted outreach and education on TB to vulnerable urban populations. Currently, MSF is working closely with local authorities and an association of HIV-positive people to begin an HIV/AIDS treatment project.
Responding to natural disasters
When a devastating tsunami hit South Asia on 26 December 2004, MSF responded immediately, mobilizing staff already on the ground. While emergency medical needs in India were adequately met by the government and local communities, the disaster resulted in widespread psychological trauma that called for additional resources. MSF offered psychological support in the southern coastal districts of Cuddalore and Nagappantinam, training community volunteers to be counselors and psychosocial assistants. In southern India's Tamil Nadu, across the strait from Sri Lanka, MSF trained medical students to identify and refer those tsunami survivors in need of medical or psychological assistance. In July 2005, MSF handed over its training work to a local group but will continue to monitor and support the project in Tamil Nadu until the end of 2005.
In July 2005, flooding in Bombay killed an estimated 1,000 people, destroying 10,000 homes and displacing more than 200,000 people. In the city's Kurla slum, MSF provided emergency medical care and tested water to make sure that it was safe to drink. MSF staff saw more than 300 patients on the first day of consultations.
MSF has worked in India since 1999.