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MSF in Burkina Faso, 2008
Field Staff: 471
Reason for Intervention:
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Decentralizing HIV/AIDS care
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is decentralizing care for people living with HIV/AIDS in two districts in Ouagadougou, and increasing the number of care sites. MSF Head of Mission Francois Giddey explains, "Task shifting, the process of allowing trained health workers other than doctors to perform clinical tasks when doctors are scarce, has allowed decentralization of services in some primary health structures. Decentralization, combined with task shifting within secondary health structures, spreads the workload among more of the health staff, helping to overcome the shortage of medical doctors. Decentralized care helps more people to have easier access to treatment."
By September 2008, MSF was treating 4,275 patients, 3,410 of whom, including 126 children, had started antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. On average there are 100 new cases per month.
Helping street girls and their children
Since 2005 MSF has been providing health care to girls living on the streets of Ouagadougou and to their young children. Street girls are particularly vulnerable because most are separated from their families. They are minors with very little education and have no one to protect them. To survive, many of the girls engage in prostitution. They are at physical and psychological risk and are often victims of sexual exploitation. They also suffer from stigmatization and discrimination. Because of their marginal status, they don’t have access to health services, but even standard medical care would not meet their particular needs.
MSF provided street girls with reproductive, obstetric, and antenatal care and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. MSF also cared for victims of sexual violence and provided psychological support. During 2008 MSF conducted more than 2,500 consultations—500 of which were psychological—with street girls, and treated about 160 children.
MSF handed over the program in December to a local NGO, Keoogo, which has been helping street children in Burkina Faso for several years. Keoogo will continue the program and in time expand it to include more services.
Treating acute malnutrition and malaria in the north
MSF treats children suffering from malnutrition in two districts, Yako and Titao, in the northern region of Burkina Faso where malnutrition is endemic. Children under five years old are deprived of basic nutrients during the annual hunger gap, when food reserves from the last harvest become depleted. MSF provided ready-to-use food that families could use at home to feed their malnourished children, ensuring that only the children with more complicated cases needed to be hospitalized. During the peak emergency period in September, MSF admitted an average of 600 malnourished children each week to its clinics.
"We are focusing on children under five, as they are the most vulnerable to malnutrition," says Jean-Luc Anglade, MSF program manager for Burkina Faso. "Childhood malnutrition is an underlying cause of death for so many children, yet it receives little public attention. Young children need the right amount of both macro- and micro-nutrients in their diet."
Since the program was launched in September 2007, more than 23,440 children have been admitted, 88 percent of whom recovered.
Many children in Burkina Faso also suffer from malaria. Between 65 and 70 percent of the children admitted to MSF malnutrition programs also have malaria during the annual malaria peak in the last months of the year. MSF provided malaria treatment to more than 10,700 children, including those not suffering from malnutrition.
MSF has worked in Burkina Faso since 1995.