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MSF in Uganda, 2007
Field Staff: 858
Reason for Intervention:
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An improved security situation and ongoing peace negotiations between the lord’s Resistance Army rebel group and the government of Uganda have resulted in the cautious return home of thousands of internally displaced people who have been living in camps in northern Uganda for several years. As the Ministry of health takes on more responsibility in many areas, MSF has been able to hand over some projects and focus on providing secondary care, HIV/AIDS and tuber culosis (tb) care. however, the health situation remains fragile. during 2007, regular disease outbreaks and emergencies demonstrated the need for MSF’s continued presence in the country.
As some of the camps in the north empty, with people either returning home or moving to satellite camps, MSF has handed over a number of projects in Pader, Kitgum, Lira and Gulu districts to other organizations or the Ministry of Health. Yet many health needs, such as hospital care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, remain unmet. In May, MSF opened a new project in Madi Opei camp in Kitgum district. Working in a Ministry of Health clinic, MSF staff provided HIV/AIDS and TB care and secondary and reproductive healthcare to around 70,000 people, most still living in camps. In Arua district, MSF’s longrunning HIV/AIDS and TB project continues to grow. By the end of December, 11,618 people had been enrolled in the program, with 4,090 receiving anti-retroviral treatment.
Responding to emergencies
On 29 November, an outbreak of Ebola was declared in Bundibugyo district, western Uganda. This highly contagious hemorrhagic fever has no known cure and is often fatal, so MSF teams had to move quickly to contain the outbreak and isolate and support those infected. The MSF intervention started in December and lasted approximately six weeks, during which 149 patients were treated. Throughout the year, MSF also responded to outbreaks of cholera, meningitis, marburg and Hepatitis E.
In February, an MSF emergency team of more than 75 staff supervised the meningitis vaccination of 291,000 people in Arua and Koboko districts and assisted the Ministry of Health in the vaccination of another 333,000 people by supplying vaccines and medical materials.
MSF teams also provided assistance to refugees who had fled violence in neighboring countries. When approximately 12,000 Congolese refugees crossed the border in October, MSF staff set up a health center in Nyakabande transit camp. MSF also built shelter for the refugees and provided clean water and sanitation facilities.
In February, an assessment by the World Food Program in the Karamoja district of north-eastern Uganda revealed that 20 per cent of those surveyed were suffering acute malnutrition. MSF teams opened a mobile therapeutic and supplementary feeding program for children under five in the district, with eight locations for food distribution and treatment and a stabilization center at the district hospital. Between July and December, 159 severely malnourished and 2,698 moderately malnourished children were treated, with 284 hospitalized at the stabilization center. An MSF assessment in Karamoja district in November indicated that the situation was improving, with a global acute malnutrition rate of 15.3 per cent.
MSF has worked in Uganda since 1980.