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MSF in Cameroon, 2006
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Buruli Ulcer is a largely neglected health problem for the people of Cameroon. Untreated, this disease destroys the skin and underlying tissues, causing large ulcerations, possible infection of the bone, and deformities, usually of the arms and legs. Buruli affects mostly children under the age of 15, some of whom may lose their limbs or face permanent disability without early medical care.
MSF runs a Buruli Ulcer project in the Akonolinga district of Cameroon, where it is estimated that more than 400 persons are suffering from Buruli in a rural population of close to 100,000. MSF works together with the local health authorities, healthcare staff and school and community representatives to increase awareness about the disease and offer wound care, medical treatment, surgery and physiotherapy. Treatment is organised in the district hospital at the "Pavillion Buruli" and can last up to several months. MSF also supplies medical materials, training, support and supervision and maintains and rehabilitates infrastructure and equipment.
Case detection is steadily increasing because of growing awareness and credibility of the treatment services in the Akonolinga district hospital, where 145 persons were successfully treated in 2005. Between January and the end of July 2006, 98 new cases were diagnosed and admitted for treatment.
Helping develop a national HIV/AIDS program
MSF's HIV/AIDS work continues to focus on access to HIV counselling and testing and care and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment with gradual involvement of local and national actors. The MSF HIV/AIDS projects in Cameroon have been serving as "pilot" projects both for MSF and the HIV/AIDS National program of Cameroon.
By the end of July 2006, MSF was involved in the support, care and treatment for more than 4000 people with HIV/AIDS — 1300 on ARV treatment — in the districts of Nylon and New Bell in the city of Douala. In Yaoundé, MSF supported the care and treatment of more than 2200 people with HIV/AIDS (1300 on ARVs), through its longterm support to the Military Hospital and a new project at the Presbyterian district hospital of Djoungolo.
The system of financial participation by patients for HIV testing, care and treatment continues to be a major obstacle for increasing access to testing and treatment in Cameroon, despite several governmental decisions in the last three years on cost reduction and fee waivers for indigents and children. MSF aims to work closely with local associations, activists and actors to lobby for the removal of barriers to HIV prevention, care and treatment.
MSF has worked in Cameroon since 2000.