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MSF in Zambia, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 165
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Zambia »
In July 2005, the Zambian government started providing HIV/AIDS care free of charge and in 2006 abolished the national cost-sharing system of healthcare. Although medical consultations, now free, increased in number, no viable substitute system of healthcare was implemented. The drug supply was not adjusted, resulting in occasional stock ruptures and patients sometimes being asked to pay for drugs, placing an extra burden on those with chronic and debilitating illnesses.
MSF has had HIV/AIDS projects in Zambia for several years, and particularly in remote and “transit areas,” such as Kapiri M’Poshi, a fast-growing town and the site of main railway transfers. Here it is estimated that one in five persons has HIV. Access to healthcare in general and HIV care in particular is very limited for people in the rural Kapiri district, where there are few roads or means of transportation. Although the Kapiri hospital has been recently upgraded to a district hospital, it lacks essential health facilities such as X-ray and surgery. In Kapiri, MSF runs a clinic within the hospital and is also working in a total of 12 rural health centers. By the end of July 2007, a total of 6,500 patients were enrolled in HIV care, with 3,008 on anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Teams conduct over 3,000 consultations per month.
In the rural district of Nchelenge, another transit area in northern Zambia, MSF established an HIV/AIDS project in 2001. MSF has worked at integrating care into regular health services and ART has been provided to 786 patients. A total of 4,195 HIV patients are followed up in the program. Patients are also screened for tuberculosis (TB) and MSF has worked with health authorities to ensure treatment for people co-infected with HIV/TB; worked to integrate this into primary care, and involved the community in prevention, treatment and support of people with HIV/AIDS. This project will be handed over to the Ministry of Health (MoH) at the end of 2007.
Frequent outbreaks of cholera
Cholera is also endemic and mainly seasonal in Zambia, with epidemic outbreaks occurring in the rainy season from November to April. In response to a cholera outbreak in March 2007 in Lusaka, MSF set up a cholera treatment centre in Matero, in the northwest part of Lusaka, and treated 1,227 people. A further 800 patients were treated from January to April in Nchelenge District, where MSF set up treatment centers and units in response to an outbreak. Logistical support and medical material was given in the Chienge District to respond to a cholera outbreak.
In January and February of 2007, floods affected 1.4 million people in 41 districts of Zambia. MSF assessed the medical situation in Northwestern province and assisted by supplying drugs.
MSF has worked in Zambia since 1999.