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MSF in Zambia, 2009
Field Staff: 94
Reason for Intervention:
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According to a 2007 national report 14 per cent of the Zambian population aged between 15 and 49 are HIV positive. Here the pandemic has affected mostly women and, in 2008, world development indicators estimated life-expectancy at birth to be only 46 years. The pandemic has laid a heavy burden on the country, but the Zambian government has taken significant steps to deal with the problem in the last few years.
MSF has worked since 2004 to provide treatment and care to thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in Zambia, through free antiretroviral therapy (ART) and medical care. MSF has also worked to raise awareness about the reality of HIV/AIDS in Kapiri M’poshi district in the northeast of the country. MSF ran an HIV/AIDS clinic in the local district hospital and has been supporting 14 rural health centers in the area. Between 2004 and 2009, more than 66,500 people were tested for HIV/AIDS, more than 12,000 were enrolled in the project and more than 6,000 began ART.
In July 2005, the government began providing care free of charge to HIV/AIDS patients, and in 2006 the national cost-sharing system of healthcare was abolished, so all treatment became free. In June 2009, MSF handed over its HIV/AIDS project in Kapiri M’poshi to the Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organization, Zambia HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Treatment Partnership, assured that all the services provided to the Kapiri community would continue to be free of charge.
MSF will continue working in Zambia, redirecting its focus towards the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child.
MSF will also respond to other unmet emergency medical needs, especially cholera, and will continue to call for improved cholera preparedness measures in the country. Teams responded to an outbreak in March by setting up two treatment centers in the capital city of Lusaka, and treated more than 4,300 patients.
Mary Chata is one of the first patients to have received ART from MSF’s HIV/AIDS project in Kapiri. Since 2004, she has been involved in awareness-raising activities in the community to encourage people to be tested for HIV/AIDS.
‘I was one of the first patients who started ART with MSF in Kapiri, which has been great for me. Now I can work, I even have a field from which I harvest 50 bags of maize. I have a garden; I feel happy, very happy. I didn’t feel well when I was sitting at home. I feel happy to come out, just to come and help my fellow friends. A lot of them knew me when I was sick; they saw the way I was, and today I give my testimony to them. So they are happy and a lot have come out in the open about HIV/AIDS, and stigma has been reduced in the community.’
MSF has worked in Zambia since 1999.