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MSF in Zambia, 2008
Field Staff: 68
Reason for Intervention:
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HIV/AIDS is still highly prevalent in Zambia and constitutes a significant health problem. The disease and related deaths are laying a heavy burden on society. The impact of the pandemic in the country is attested by the decrease in life expectancy at birth, which, according to the World Health Organization, was 52 in 1990 but by 2003 had dropped to 35.
However, the government of Zambia has raised awareness of HIV/AIDS over the years and has implemented policies to increase the provision of treatment. In July 2005, the government started providing HIV/AIDS care free of charge and in 2006 abolished the national cost-sharing system of health care.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has focused on providing assistance to people with HIV/AIDS through a project in the district of Kapiri Mposhi. Kapiri is a fast-growing town with little infrastructure, situated in a transit area. Because of the central position and transit character of the town, the population of Kapiri is particularly exposed to diseases such as sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and cholera. It is estimated that 20 percent of the city’s general population is affected by HIV/AIDS.
Access to health care in general and HIV/AIDS care in particular is limited for the 250,000 inhabitants of Kapiri district, who are spread over a vast area that has no roads or means of transport. The care provided through the existing health facilities is poor due to lack of medical supplies and human resources. MSF has shown that some of the tasks and responsibilities, such as HIV testing and counseling, which were formerly undertaken by doctors, can be handed over to clinical officers or nurses.
MSF runs an HIV/AIDS clinic inside Kapiri district hospital and works in 14 rural and four urban health centers. By implementing a decentralized model of HIV/AIDS care, people living outside large urban centers can receive care and medical attention. MSF is also involving the community in preventing the spread of HIV and the treatment and support of people living with HIV/AIDS.
At the end of December 2008, MSF had enrolled more than 10,500 patients in the project, more than 5,000 of whom were receiving antiretroviral therapy. During 2008, MSF teams carried out more than 2,600 medical consultations a month. At the same time, and in preparation for the handover of the HIV/AIDS program, MSF started to integrate the project with the Zambian ministry of health’s activities.
MSF has worked in Zambia since 1999.