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MSF in Mali, 2006
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People living in Mali, a country located in the middle of Africa's meningitis belt, suffer from recurrent epidemics of meningitis, cholera, measles and yellow fever. In 2005/2006, MSF responded to a number of health emergencies in this country where the majority of its 13.8 million inhabitants are without access to basic healthcare.
In the northwest part of the country, a cholera epidemic broke out in Kayes and Nara between June 2005 and January 2006. MSF teams backed up the Ministry of Health (MOH) by taking charge of patient care, controlling hygiene measures and educating the population about the disease. A total of 914 people were affected.
From September to November 2005, an intervention to identify and treat malnutrition was carried out in Goundam, an hour's travel from Timbuktu. Out of 5000 children evaluated for malnutrition, 54 were hospitalised and 228 were treated as outpatients. National personnel at health centers are now familiar with the techniques of nutritional surveillance and will continue to monitor for child malnutrition.
Mali was then confronted with a number of meningitis cases in March 2006. Working in conjunction with the MOH, MSF supervised vaccinations, furnished free treatment for patients and organised transportation, necessary refrigeration for vaccines and other logistics for the districts of Koutiala and Sélingué. In total, 179,539 people were vaccinated.
Increasing access to healthcare
Malaria is the leading cause of death in the country. Although the government has updated its malaria drug protocol to use artemisinin derivatives (ACT), insufficient quantities and high prices preclude this protocol from being used throughout the country. In July 2005, MSF began a project addressing malaria in Kangaba, offering ACT to those diagnosed with rapid malaria tests at community healthcare centers.
MSF has also been developing a program, in cooperation with five other NGOs, to reduce maternal-infant mortality in the northern regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal. Equipping health centers, increasing community education related to maternal health and performing obstetric surgeries (such as fistula surgery) are the principal components of this program.
Withdrawal from training project
After five years of MSF support, the nursing school "Sahel Formation" has provided regions in the north with more than 300 qualified nurses and lab assistants in a zone that previously suffered from a complete lack of health personnel. The school remains open, and MSF has now withdrawn from the project.
MSF has worked in Mali since 1992.