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MSF in Uganda, 2009
Field Staff: 424
Reason for Intervention:
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MSF is working to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in the country, and is providing nutritional programs for malnourished children.
In the West Nile region, in the northern part of the country on the border with Sudan, MSF has provided treatment to more than 16,000 people with HIV/AIDS since 2002. In these northern districts, the healthcare system is slowly being rebuilt after years of conflict in the country. The main challenges are the shortage of trained health staff and an irregular drug supply, especially for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. In the northwest Arua district MSF provides treatment for patients co-infected with TB, nutritional support for adults and children living with the disease and antenatal care to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. Of the 7,740 patients currently treated at the hospital, more than 5,000 are receiving antiretroviral therapy. MSF also supports decentralized HIV/AIDS clinics in other rural areas.
MSF continued to provide assistance to refugees who had fled fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of 2008, and brought medical and sanitation support to a refugee settlement in the southwest of the country from February to May.
Malaria is endemic in Uganda, but the most effective treatment, Artemisinin Combination Therapy, is not always readily available. In 2009 in Madi Opei, a rural area in the north of the country, MSF treated more than 27,000 people infected with malaria.
Each month, MSF teams care for around 7,000 patients and 200 pregnant women.
Hepatitis E is a viral infection transmitted through contaminated water or food. It cannot be cured and there is no vaccine available. The epidemic that started in Kitgum and Pader districts in the north of Uganda in 2007 continued throughout 2009. MSF teams provided patient care, worked to improve water and sanitation facilities and tried to prevent the disease from spreading further by seeking out new cases and carrying out health education campaigns. In 2009, MSF cared for more than 1,450 patients with this condition.
Decades of political neglect and underdeveloped health services have badly affected the people in the remote nomadic Karamoja region in the northeast of the county. Violence here has caused dozens of people to die each month. Access to healthcare has been impeded by insecurity, poor health exacerbated by a chronic food crisis, and there have been peaks of acute malnutrition. In 2009, MSF provided some 20,000 consultations, and 2,500 pregnant women were seen in either mobile clinics or at the hospital.
Cavine is ten years old and HIV-positive.
Cavine’s father died during the fighting. Her sick mother went to the hospital where she was diagnosed with TB and found to be HIV-positive. Cavine was also tested and found to be HIV-positive. Her mother was heartbroken when she found out Cavine was sick, but relieved when her other children were found to be not infected by the virus. Cavine said, ‘I feel good now. I was sick, but when I started taking the drugs I got well.’ Her grandmother added, ‘I feel happy because I see that there is no difference between her and any other child in the family anymore. She is OK; she is doing all the work the others do. At school she is very bright. I am impressed!’
MSF has worked in Uganda since 1980.