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MSF in Honduras, 2011
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In Honduras’s capital Tegucigalpa, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is developing a program to improve medical assistance for people affected by violence. Drug trafficking, clashes between gangs and legal access to guns have made violence commonplace in Honduras. An MSF survey carried out at the end of 2010 found that nearly 59 percent of under-18s living on the streets of Tegucigalpa had experienced physical violence within the past year, while 45 percent reported that they had been victims of sexual violence.
Working on the streets of Tegucigalpa
MSF has set up mobile teams, made up of a social worker, psychologist, doctor and nurse, who visit 20 sites around the city each week – perhaps a public square or street corner – providing on-the-spot healthcare where they can, or referring people in need of more advanced or complex treatment to Ministry of Health facilities. The team conducted 1,860 consultations in 2011.
As the year progressed, there were signs that the program was beginning to influence behavior and encouraging more people to seek medical treatment. In March, 19 percent of street-based patients referred to a health center by MSF actually went. By December, the number had risen to nearly 26 percent.
Introducing treatment for victims of sexual violence
MSF also assists victims of sexual violence in four health centers in some of the most violent areas of Tegucigalpa. A team of one nurse and one psychologist provides psychological and medical care to patients and trains Ministry of Health staff.
Since February, MSF has been actively participating in the elaboration of a national protocol for the treatment of victims of sexual violence, helping to draw up the medical content. MSF is also advocating that sexual violence be considered a public health emergency.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 22 staff in Honduras. MSF has been working in the country since 1974.