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MSF in Mali, 2008
Field Staff: 143
Reason for Intervention:
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Malaria is one of the biggest killers in sub-Saharan Africa. In Mali it is a leading cause of death in children under five years old. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works in the Kangaba region in southern Mali, where malaria is most prevalent. This is a poor area where few people have access to health care, particularly during the rainy season when many villages become isolated, and when malaria spreads most rapidly.
MSF supports 11 health centers in Kangaba. It has helped ensure that health care is free for children under five years old and for pregnant women, and available at low cost for children over five who have a fever. As a result, more cases of malaria are treated early, which helps prevent recurrences that can be fatal. There has been a similar trend in the treatment of other diseases.
MSF has also established mobile teams of community workers. They are trained and equipped by MSF to rapidly detect and treat uncomplicated malaria cases in children under 10 years old in remote villages during the rainy season. In 2008 MSF carried out more than 83,500 consultations. The number of people with malaria in 2008 exceeded 35,700—there were 25,640 in 2007. The percentage of malaria cases that were severe, however, continued to decrease, from 2.13 percent in 2007 to 1.68 percent in 2008.
Comprehensive approach to treating fistulas
In Timbuktu, MSF also treats obstetric fistulas. Fistulas occur most often during childbirth if there are complications and little healthcare is available. A fistula is a hole created between the rectum and the vagina, or between the bladder and the vagina. It causes incontinence. Women who suffer from fistulas are often treated as outcasts. In 2008 MSF held three sessions in collaboration with the Timbuktu regional hospital and operated on 160 women without charge. The free care is part of a comprehensive approach that offers pre- and post-surgery care, health promotion, education, psychosocial support, physiotherapy, and a shared place to stay where women can discuss their experience and prepare to return home. MSF also encourages women to overcome the fears many have about undergoing treatment.
Providing care in Kidal
Between May and December, MSF also provided care in the Kidal region, which is affected by a low-intensity conflict between government forces and Touareg rebels. Half of the estimated 52,000 people who were living in Kidal are thought to have left the area due to the tense situation. MSF provided primary healthcare consultations through two mobile teams in the main centers where people gathered, supported Kidal hospital’s pediatric wards, and facilitated surgical referrals to Gao city’s hospital.
MSF has worked in Mali since 1992.