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MSF in Zambia, 2006
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In the second half of 2005, the first cases of what became a massive cholera outbreak were reported in the Lukanga swamps, 250 kilometres north of Zambia's capital city, Lusaka. A perpetual problem during Zambia’s November to April rainy season, this water-borne disease has the potential to accelerate rapidly in impoverished areas with inadequate sanitation.
MSF immediately began an emergency intervention, taking over management of emergency medical activities in Lusaka in December, when the number of cases rose to 200 per week.
MSF set up two cholera treatment centers in the city with a total of 500 beds. By late January 2006, MSF had developed the capacity to treat more than 475 people weekly. MSF trucked chlorinated water to hard-hit neighborhoods, distributing 70,000 liters of water each week at the height of the outbreak. The team also implemented disinfection measures and hygienic burial activities. MSF staff fanned out in the community to promote strict hygiene measures and distributed information on ways to control the disease’s spread through pamphlets, drama performances in schools and markets and on radio and television.
In March, the number of cholera cases started to decline and MSF was able to close its intervention at the end of the month, having treated 3028 patients. In total, 5557 cholera cases were reported and 151 people died.
Expanding AIDS care
Approximately 1.6 million of the country’s 11 million people are estimated to be HIVpositive and more than 100,000 people die each year from the disease. In response to this crisis, MSF works in two districts of the country to provide comprehensive HIV/ AIDS care to some of the most vulnerable. MSF runs projects in the poor and rural northeastern Nchelenge district in Luapula province and in the Kapiri M’Poshi district of Central province, where MSF recently built a specialised antiretroviral (ARV) clinic inside Kapiri District Hospital. Testing activities are finding between 30 and 40 per cent of people infected with HIV in these locations. By mid-2006, approximately 6000 people were receiving HIV/AIDS related care from MSF at these locations, and an estimated 2000 were receiving ARV treatment.
MSF has worked in Zambia since 1999.