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MSF in Philippines, 2010
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A renewed outbreak of the conflict between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2008 resulted in the displacement of more than 750,000 people.
MSF started working in Maguindanao, in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and North Cotabato, in a neighbouring region of Mindanao, because the local health system was overwhelmed and struggling to meet the people’s basic healthcare needs.
Responding to trauma
In 2010, MSF provided healthcare in five evacuation centres. These government-run centres provide a temporary home to people displaced by violence. Special attention was paid to children, women and individuals suffering severe consequences of trauma and violence. MSF held more than 27,500 consultations through mobile clinics or in existing health centres, providing care for 3,455 pregnant women and treating 267 children for severe acute malnutrition.
Mental health problems were a major unaddressed issue in the evacuation centres. Many of the displaced people had had traumatic experiences, losing family members and their homes, and living in precarious circumstances for long periods of time. The public health system did not offer treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, so MSF integrated a mental health component into its medical response to trauma and violence and treated 1,155 people in 2010.
The organisation helped rehabilitate health structures by setting up waste disposal and improving water supplies and sanitation in the districts of Datu Piang, Libutan, Lumpong and Libungan Torreta. MSF also distributed relief items, including plastic sheeting and soap, to 800 families.
In May 2010, following the presidential election, efforts have been made to settle the conflict between the government and MILF. The situation on the ground remains fragile, but displaced people have started moving back home or integrating into host communities. As a consequence, MSF reduced its medical activities. In October, MSF handed over its projects to the public authorities.
MSF has worked in the Philippines since 2008.