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MSF in Burundi, 2009
Field Staff: 61
Reason for Intervention:
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Despite a presidential decree in 2006 that guaranteed free healthcare for pregnant women and children under five years old, Burundi has one of the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Every year 1,000 women suffering from obstetric fistula as a result of a complicated delivery are reported to the Ministry of Health. MSF works to provide care for women before and during delivery. MSF also responds to health emergencies such as nutritional crises or natural disasters.
Lifesaving maternal care
In 2009, the MSF Center for Obstetrical Emergencies in Kabezi assisted 2,300 women who were facing complications during pregnancy or delivery. The center, which MSF constructed, has a capacity of 48 beds, a delivery room and an operating theater. There is a 24-hour emergency service that can be used by the 20 community health centers in the region. The MSF team also provided treatment to 30 women with obstetric fistulas.
Treating sexual violence
In the capital Bujumbura, MSF handed over the Seruka Centre, which specialized in the treatment of victims of sexual violence, to a Burundi association known as Initiative Seruka pour les victimes de Viol (ISV). It was created in 2008 by staff working in the MSF center. In the six years before the handover, the center provided care for more than 7,800 victims of sexual violence.
Between February and June, MSF responded to a nutritional emergency in the northern province of Kirundo, where teams admitted more than 500 severely malnourished children to the center in town. In addition, MSF provided support to therapeutic centers across the region and referred those needing further care to the hospital in Kirundo.
In March, when severe floods devastated several areas near the capital city Bujumbura, MSF ran mobile clinics and worked to improve hygiene conditions and access to clean water. Later in July and August, MSF responded to a cholera outbreak in several neighborhoods of the capital, treating 90 patients.
Mary, 30, is one of thousands of women who have received help at the MSF birth center in Kabezi. Mary, already a mother of five, was hospitalized before giving birth because she was severely malnourished. Her daughter was born anemic and underweight, and was vomiting a lot after the birth. However, bit by bit she started to improve, and Mary also began to feel better. Her lips regained color and the swelling in her legs decreased. ‘If it wasn’t for MSF my children wouldn’t have a mother,’ she said.
MSF has worked in Burundi since 1992.