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MSF in Guatemala, 2007
Field Staff: 44
Reason for Intervention:
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Poverty in Guatemala is widespread in the countryside and amongst indigenous communities. Child mortality and malnutrition rates are the highest in the region, and life expectancy is the lowest. The country is plagued by organised crime and violent street gangs.
Not enough medical attention has been paid to victims of sexual violence in Guatemala. A protocol for addressing these patients in health structures approved by the Ministry of Health in 2005 has yet to be implemented.
MSF started a project to treat survivors of sexual violence in zone 18 of Guatemala City. This is one of the ‘barrios’ most affected by violence and organised drug crime. MSF activities included reproductive healthcare and psychological services in a Ministry of Health primary care clinic and maternity clinic.
Healthcare is also provided by MSF through a mobile unit working with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) throughout Guatemala City. The project also aims to raise awareness of the violence and the importance and availability of specialised care.
Handover of HIV /AID S treatment projects
Increased support from international donors and gradual improvements in healthcare services, funded and delivered through Guatemalan government structures, led MSF MSF PROJECTS AROUND THE WO RLD | The Americas to transfer its remaining HIV/AIDS projects in Coatepeque, Puerto Barrios and Guatemala City to health authorities.
The national health service has taken over responsibility for HIV/AIDS care at the hospital in Coatepeque, where 900 patients were treated, and treatment for most of the 750 patients in the Guatemala City programme will now be provided by a local medical NGO called Fundación Marco Antonio.
However, issues of scale-up and continuity of care remain major challenges in Guatemala. MSF supplied anti-retroviral drugs to treatment centres experiencing drug shortages.
Such shortages were mainly due to low treatment targets that did not reflect the actual number of people in need, budgetary issues, inadequate coordination between the national HIV/AIDS programme and the Global Fund’s implementing partner and the late procurement of drugs. MSF raised these concerns publicly, including to representatives of the Ministry of Health.
In September, MSF also highlighted gaps in support for the HIV/AIDS department in Coatepeque hospital and the risks associated with anti-retroviral drug shortages. MSF believes the Global Fund should work with its implementing partner to set realistic treatment targets and use its financial leverage to lower drug prices. MSF also advocated for the Guatemalan government to take advantage of World Trade Organization mechanisms to purchase the most effective medicines at the best prices.
MSF has worked in Guatemala since 1984.