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MSF in Ethiopia, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 828
Reason for Intervention:
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Over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s more than 79 million inhabitants live in rural areas, making the provision of health services in Africa’s second most populous country a major challenge. The main health problems are malaria, HIV /AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and chronic and acute malnutrition. There are also frequent epidemics and outbreaks of meningitis and measles, and diseases such as kala azar are endemic in some areas.
Cherrati, in Somali Region, is a semi-arid area that borders Somalia, where people live as pastoralists, trading in livestock. MSF established a primary healthcare center in this region in 2004, offering general consultations, maternal healthcare, inpatient medical care, therapeutic feeding, wound dressings, vaccinations, and drug distribution. More than 18,000 consultations were conducted here in 2006. Another primary healthcare center is located in Itang, Gambella Region, which focuses on the treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
Responding to outbreaks of cholera and measles
Between August and October 2006, MSF responded to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in the regions of Oromyia and Amhara, and in Addis Ababa. Teams assisted the regional health authorities in SNNPR (Southern Nation Nationalities and People’s Region) in their response beginning August 2006. Although there is no permanent team in the area, MSF reacted by setting up cholera treatment centers, providing materials, such as tents, saline solution for rehydration, and chlorine for disinfection, and sending mobile teams when necessary. Over 9,000 patients received medical consultations. In November and December 2006, MSF assisted people displaced by floods and responded to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in the Somali region.
In June 2007, MSF was running an emergency program in the Amhara region at resettlement sites in Awi Zone, Jawi District, responding to a measles outbreak and preparing for the malaria season. MSF teams started a vaccination campaign and set up mobile clinics to treat people with measles, malaria and other deadly pathologies. Nutritional support is also provided. As the rainy season approaches and many areas will become inaccessible, MSF teams are helping prepare health services through training, providing equipment and supplying drugs.
Treating an overlooked disease, kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), also known as “black fever, ” is endemic in some parts of Ethiopia and appears to be spreading to new areas. A parasitic infection, this tropical disease critically affects the immune system and has a mortality rate of almost 100 percent. With proper treatment, approximately 92 percent of people infected can be cured. MSF runs treatment centers in Tigray and in the Amhara region, where 657 patients were treated for kala azar in 2006. Although kala azar is a recognized disease, few resources are being allocated to it through the health system.
Handing over TB and HIV /AIDS programs
MSF has closed its TB program in Galaha and patients undergoing treatment have been transferred to the national TB program. TB treatment continues in MSF’s health center in Cherrati. By the end of 2006, more than 400 people had received treatment and a TB hospitalization ward had been constructed, as well as a “TB village”, where patients live in a communal area under close medical supervision.
In Humera, Tigray Region, MSF has handed over its HIV/AIDS activities, where 750 patients were being treated with anti-retrovirals, to the Ministry of Health. The government was ready to continue care for the patients and provide the necessary medications free of charge.
MSF has worked in Ethiopia since 1984.