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MSF in Burundi, 2010
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Although Burundi has a policy of free healthcare for children and pregnant women, access to care is limited, primarily because of a shortage of staff. This particularly affects women. According to the World Health Organization, 4,000 women die in childbirth and approximately 1,000 women develop an obstetric fistula every year.
In western Burundi, MSF operates a centre providing emergency obstetric and gynaecological care in the town of Kabezi, in Bujumbura Rural province. The centre offers medical care for pregnant women experiencing complications in delivery and for newborn babies. MSF also runs an ambulance service that transports women needing emergency care from 23 health centres in the area and brings them to Kabezi.
Obstetric fistulas are injuries caused to the birth canal. Many women with obstetric fistula have to live with the unpleasant and debilitating effects of incontinence, which can also result in social exclusion.
In July 2010, MSF opened the Urumuri centre in the city of Gitega, central Burundi, to treat women with obstetric fistula. It is the only centre in the country that provides free, around-the-clock treatment. MSF is planning to treat 350 women per year for the next three years, and will be training Burundian doctors in specialist fistula surgery.
Malaria is the main cause of mortality and illness in Burundi. It is responsible for 48 per cent of deaths among children under five. In 2010, two MSF teams treated 175,000 people for malaria and distributed 134,000 mosquito nets in the provinces of Kayanza, Ngozi and Karuzi.
An MSF team is dedicated to the surveillance and evaluation of medical alerts in Burundi. The team supported the national health authorities during outbreaks of cholera and measles in 2010, treating patients and assuring follow-up. MSF staff also took part in a measles vaccination programme.
MSF has worked in Burundi since 1992.