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MSF in Sierra Leone, 2006
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Sierra Leone is still recovering from years of civil war, which shattered its healthcare system and left most civilians unable to obtain basic medical care. With the government and many donor countries focusing on development projects, medical emergencies remain unaddressed in many districts. MSF is providing medical care to some of the country's most vulnerable inhabitants: children, pregnant women and refugees.
Photo © Dominick Tyler
Many women in Sierra Leone die from complications during pregnancy or delivery, and close to one out of five babies dies during or just after birth. MSF is helping mothers and babies by reducing medical risks and making needed medical care more available. Women often live far from hospitals, so in Kambia and Tonkolili districts, MSF has established "maternity houses" where women in their final weeks of pregnancy can stay until they deliver. In these facilities, MSF treats HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent mother-tochild transmission of the virus. MSF staff is also integrating HIV and tuberculosis (TB) care in MSF-supported public health units, and in the maternal and paediatric wards of secondary health facilities. Teams train and supervise staff and supply medicines and other medical materials. MSF clinics see approximately 2000 patients per month in each district.
By the end of 2005, an estimated 20,000 Liberians were living in refugee camps in Sierra Leone, having fled their own country during its civil war. In 2005, MSF provided medical care in eight camps within Bo, Moyamba, and Kenema districts. With increasing repatriation and camp populations decreasing in some areas, MSF handed over activities in three camps in April 2006 but continued to provide healthcare to refugees and the local population in clinics located beside five other camps. Approximately 20,000 patients are seen every month in Southern province, including 10,000 patients for malaria. An outbreak of measles occurred in the Tobanda camp and nearby villages in November 2005, and MSF immunised 3,363 children.
MSF has worked closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to change the national malaria treatment protocol from chloroquine to the more effective artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Today ACT is available in the health facilities supported by MSF, but not in other health structures. MSF continues to work with the MOH to have ACT more widely available and to prepare health staff and communities to use it correctly.
MSF has worked in Sierra Leone since 1986.