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MSF in Morocco, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 18
Reason for Intervention:
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A passageway between Africa and Europe, Morocco receives thousands of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants each year. Over 2006/2007 this population, which previously gravitated to precarious conditions in bush areas, increasingly relocated to the cities in search of safety.
Urban centers are propitious for subsistence strategies such as begging or prostitution that may contribute to improvement of immigrants’ survival; however, settlement in the populated areas of Rabat and Casablanca also gives rise to new health and social problems and violence takes on a bigger dimension.
MSF provides primary care to sub-Saharan immigrants (SSIs) primarily in Tangier-Tetouan and Nador-Oujda, seeing patients in clinics and through field visits where medical staff consult with patients on-the-spot. MSF teams conduct a total of approximately 300 consultations monthly. Teams also make medical referrals in cooperation with public health centers and health authorities. MSF ensures a drug supply system to cover patients’ needs and has established a supply of first aid material and basic hygiene kits in both suburban and isolated areas.
The evolution of the SSIs living situation is evident in presenting health problems: in Tangier, for example, MSF is now seeing less lesions and injuries (six percent of consultations in 2006, down from 26 percent in 2005), yet an increase in gynaeco-obstetric pathologies (11 percent in 2006, up from eight percent in 2005). Frequently treated medical conditions, such as respiratory infections and skin conditions, are related to difficult living conditions. There are always many cases of non-specific problems, usually referred to as “body pain” and clearly linked with the hard living conditions.
The medical needs of women are met through the implementation of ante-natal care activities and voluntary HIV screening tests are offered, with drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission for women found to be HIV-positive. Educational activities and treatment are also provided for sexually transmitted infections.
During 2006 MSF observed an improvement concerning sub-Saharan immigrants accessing healthcare within the Moroccan public health system and its professional staff, mainly in Tangier-Tetouan and Nador-Oujda, and to a lesser extent in Rabat, Casablanca and the area of Layoune.
MSF has worked in Morocco since 1997.