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MSF in Bangladesh, 2007
Field Staff: 165
Reason for Intervention:
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In November a severe cyclone killed and injured many. MSF responded to this emergency providing essential medical care. Parallel to this, work continued to help the stateless people of Rohingya who have little access to health care.
Cyclone Sidr destruction
Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless. MSF provided assistance to victims in some of the remote areas using mobile clinics. By December, MSF had provided medical care to over 7,600 patients, most of whom had diarrhea and skin infections. In addition MSF distributed 4,000 household kits.
Severe floods increased diarrhea risk
Cases of diarrhea increased following the early severe flooding in July and August. MSF initiated a severe watery diarrhea intervention supporting the existing facilities in Dhaka. In September and October, MSF treated over 1,800 diarrhea cases, about 30 per cent of which were cholera.
Rohingya find little support
Stateless Rohingya people have been crossing the border between Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh for decades. They are a Muslim minority in Myanmar, a country that does not recognize them as citizens. They are subject to forced labor, land confiscation and restrictions on movement and marriage but receive little support when they get to Bangladesh.
MSF has worked with the Rohingya in Bangladesh for many years. After opening a project in the Teknaf region at the border with Myanmar in 2006, MSF in 2007 focused on improving access to health care, particularly for the 9,000 people living in the makeshift ‘Tal camp’. MSF has also advocated on the plight of the Rohingya to encourage other international actors to recognize their vulnerable situation and take action to help.
Throughout the year, MSF carried out medical activities through an outpatient clinic, undertaking some 1,200 consultations a week, and a feeding center (over 2,100 admissions in 2007) near Tal camp. Respiratory and skin infections were the most common conditions. Due to a lack of access to health care of refugees in the official camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara, MSF opened two 20-bed inpatient units in the camps. By the end of the year, these facilities had admitted 3,800 patients.
At the beginning of May, MSF closed its project in the Chittagong Hill Tracts after eight years. It was partially handed over to the Bangladeshi regional health authorities. When MSF first intervened, the area was emerging from a 20-year armed conflict between the central government and the indigenous people. Today, access to health care is improving. A better infrastructure allows people to reach existing health structures and more assistance is coming into the region.
With the government now offering better accommodation to the people living in Tal Camp, MSF plans to hand over its project there to another organization. MSF is intending to leave the country by the end of 2008.
MSF has worked in Bangladesh since 1985.