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MSF in Peru, 2007
Field Staff: 73
Reason for Intervention:
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When a powerful earthquake hit Peru in August, MSF provided emergency medical relief to remote communities. Parallel to this, MSF continued to help vulnerable groups affected by HIV /AIDS.
Helping the remote and the traumatized
On 15 August, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale shook the coast of Peru, killing 600 people, wounding 2,000 and making tens of thousands homeless. The towns most affected were Chincha, Pisco and Ica, around 200 kilometers south of Lima. The first MSF team arrived within 24 hours to assess the needs and launch emergency relief activities.
MSF focused its efforts in the most remote areas to the east and Guadalupe, a town in the south-east. A center for post-traumatic and post-operative care was set up in the center of Pisco. Mobile clinics were established in many towns, supported by 30 healthcare facilities providing medicines and epidemiological monitoring. Psychologists provided support group sessions called ‘Charlas’, and individual sessions to help people cope with the psychological effects of the disaster. When relief activities ended in December, psychosocial assistance had been provided to 8,000 people. In addition, 12,000 people benefited from the provision of medicines, water and sanitation activities and distribution of relief goods.
MSF transfers HIV /AIDS projects
MSF’s recent work in Peru focused on providing comprehensive care to people living with HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of HIV in the country is relatively low, although highly concentrated in marginalized groups such as commercial sex workers, drug users and prisoners.
In 2004, a project was started in Villa El Salvador, the second biggest slum in Lima and home to half a million people. This aimed to decentralize HIV/AIDS care and reduce stigma and discrimination by promoting free access to care with free single-dose medication.
MSF also implemented the manual CD4 count in five Peruvian provinces. MSF has trained health providers from the Ministry of Health on this technique, which is crucial to establishing immunity levels and determining when an HIV-positive person should start anti-retroviral treatment (ART).
Since 2006, MSF has gradually handed over this project to the Ministry of Health. By the end of the project, MSF had trained over 2,000 health staff and implemented voluntary counseling and testing in more than 30 health centers. A total of 482 patients affected by HIV were enrolled in the program, with 342 started on ART.
MSF also completed the closure of a project for sexually transmitted infections and HIV/ AIDS in the state prison of Lurigancho, the largest prison in Peru. The project was replicated in Chorillos Common, Chincha and Huaral prisons.
MSF has worked in Peru since 1985.