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MSF in Burundi, 2006
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A country with a long history of ethnic conflict, Burundi in 2005 continued along a road of relative peace, seeing the democratic election of a new, power-sharing government headed by Pierre Nkurunziza. The country’s war-shattered economy and infrastructure are high on the government’s development agenda, but a costrecovery system of healthcare means that many Burundians still lack access to basic medical services, despite a May 2006 announcement of free medical care for pregnant women and children under five years of age.
Offering low cost primary healthcare
An average family in Burundi has to work for two weeks to afford a medical
MSF supports a number of hospitals throughout the country, where health services are provided for very low fees, with free access for the most vulnerable. Malaria, a treatable but otherwise potentially fatal disease, represents up to 50 per cent of MSF medical consultations at health centers countrywide.
In Karuzi province, MSF works in the newly rebuilt, 180-bed Buhiga Hospital, offering surgery, maternity and paediatric care. MSF also supports 12 primary healthcare centers in the province (450,000 consultations in 2005), and runs a therapeutic feeding center that treated 10,669 children in 2005.
In Ruyigi district, MSF provides primary healthcare in seven health centers (180,000 consultations in 2005, with 93,000 cases of malaria treated) and provides support to a hospital in Kininya. Medical services include tuberculosis treatment, ante and post-natal care, surgery and physical and psychological care for women survivors of sexual violence. There is also testing and treatment for HIV. A similar project is running in Kazanza province, where MSF works out of a 100- bed hospital in Musema and four health centers that conducted 96,500 consultations in 2005.
Responding to women’s healthcare needs
MSF runs a specialised health center for women survivors of sexual violence in Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura. The “center des femmes” provides medical and psychological care as well as services for family planning and sexually transmitted infections. The team also focuses on education and raising awareness about sexual violence. On average 123 women were treated monthly in 2005.
There is little capacity to deal with emergency obstetric cases in Bujumbura. In 2006, MSF began construction of a 30-bed gynaecologic-obstetric reference hospital with a surgical unit in Kabezi, 20 minutes outside the city center, to provide emergency care for women throughout the province.
Helping Rwandan asylum seekers
In 2005/2006, some 20,000 Rwandans streamed across the border, citing harassment by Rwandan authorities and fear of neighbourhood tribunals established to prosecute genocide suspects. MSF established a clinic in Musasa and offered basic healthcare to asylum seekers in the Musasa and Songore camps. MSF also extended its services to Burundians, some of whom walk up to six hours to receive free and quality medical care. In the first seven months of 2006, MSF performed 63,675 medical consultations here, seeing mainly respiratory tract infections and malaria.
MSF closes the center de Blessés
The scaling down of fighting in and around Bujumbura led MSF to close its ‘war wounded’ health center in March 2006. The project ran for ten years and recorded 1101 new admissions in 2005.
MSF has worked in Burundi since 1992.