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MSF in Ethiopia, 2009
Field Staff: 589
Reason for Intervention:
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In 2009 MSF refocused its activities in Ethiopia, opening new projects in the Somali, Oromiya and Gambella regions of the country and handing over a long running kala azar project to the local health authorities in Tigray region. Teams also treated people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malnutrition and provided aid to refugees in camps.
Kala azar treatment
In July, MSF handed over to the local health authorities its kala azar treatment program in Humera on the border with Eritrea and Sudan. The move followed a series of important steps taken by the government and other organizations in tackling this parasitic disease which, if left untreated, is fatal. Steps have included treatment of the disease in all health structures and the introduction of a national training curriculum for health staff. In the 11 years that MSF worked in the Humera district, approximately 8,000 people suffering from kala azar were treated.
In the northwest Amhara region near the border of Sudan and Eritrea, a remote and often inaccessible area particularly during the rainy season, MSF continued to provide care for people infected with kala azar. Throughout the year, more than 800 people were screened for the disease and nearly 250 patients treated for it.
MSF also treated people with HIV, TB and malnutrition. Last year, more than 4,000 people received counseling and testing for HIV and 250 patients started their antiretroviral therapy. More than 500 people received therapeutic food including 250 malnourished children under five years old.
Somali region healthcare
In Ethiopia’s conflict affected Somali region, where many people have no access to health care, teams continued to provide free medical assistance. In one center in Wardher, MSF provided general and maternal health care and treated malnutrition and TB. Staff focused on strengthening and promoting the maternal health services here, since few pregnant women in the region were coming to the clinic for help. These efforts were successful: more than 1,600 women received antenatal consultations and 200 women received assistance for births during the year. In Degahbur, MSF supported a hospital by providing general and maternal care and nutrition services. Mobile clinics are also in place in the area to help reach rural communities. Teams in Degahbur carried out nearly 20,000 consultations and treated nearly 13,000 children for malnutrition.
In February, MSF provided emergency medical assistance to Somali refugees living in transit camps as well as to those who had found accommodation within the local community. In Dolo Ado transit camp, teams provided free basic health care, nutritional screening and measles vaccinations for children under 15 years old. In the town of Dolo Ado MSF supported the health center in providing general health care, maternal care, pediatric care, nutritional assistance and various vaccinations.
In May MSF supported the local health authorities in opening a health center in Geladi, also in the Somali region. MSF’s intervention was initially focused on responding to an outbreak of diarrhea, however in the last six months of 2009, teams worked on developing other services provided at the center such as maternal services and general health care.
In August, medical teams started working in East Imey, providing outpatient care, ante-natal services and treatment for malnutrition. The center has a 15 bed capacity and a maternity ward. In December MSF expanded its activities to West Imey, where teams are supporting a primary healthcare center and a nutritional center.
Nutritional support in Oromiya
In November MSF started providing nutritional care in these three areas. A stabilization center was built and more than 60 severely malnourished children with medical complications were admitted. The children received treatment over two months and a further 540 severely malnourished children were treated without being admitted. MSF also responded to nutritional emergencies elsewhere. More than 80 malnourished children under five years old were cared for in Bokh between September and November, and over 550 children were treated for malnutrition in Legehida.
Displacement in Gambella
Throughout the year escalating violence in the neighboring regions of Sudan displaced people in the Gambella Region in the west of the country. MSF opened a program to provide health care to approximately 20,000 residents and 15,000 displaced people living in the district of Wantaho Woreda. The clinic offers general, maternal and nutritional care. In 2009, teams provided nearly 1,800 consultations.
MSF responded to other emergencies throughout the year, primarily outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea. Interventions in Moyale, on the border of Kenya, treated more than 500 people in one month and in the Afar region more than 1,000 people. MSF also intervened in South Omo in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region and in the Oromiya region. In August diarrhea became endemic in the capital, Addis Ababa, and its surroundings. Working together with the Ethiopian health authorities, teams treated more than 10,000 people in nine facilities throughout the city.
Kala azar patient, Humera
‘This is the second time I’ve had kala azar. I was asked if I would be willing to be tested for HIV. I gave my consent and was given counseling and I’m on antiretroviral therapy. My life has been saved by this treatment.’
MSF has worked in Ethiopia since 1984.