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MSF in Cambodia, 2012
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Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most serious public health challenges facing Cambodia. TB is spread through the air by an infected person coughing or sneezing. It is an opportunistic infection that takes advantage of weakened immune systems.
Searching for TB
In Kampong Cham hospital, MSF offers treatment for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). DR-TB is much harder to treat because it is a form of the disease against which first-line drug regimens have failed.
A priority is to improve detection of the disease, and actively look for and test people who may have it. MSF invites individuals patients have had contact with, such as family members, to be tested, and works with hospital staff, particularly in the pediatric ward, to identify patients who may have TB. The team carries out regular awareness-raising activities to help increase knowledge and understanding of TB and reduce the stigma surrounding the disease.
These activities, as well as the completion of a new laboratory, have all contributed to a significant growth in patient numbers. Each month MSF staff now conduct around 1,000 consultations inside Kampong Cham hospital’s TB ward. The team also makes home visits to DR-TB patients who have difficulty getting to the hospital, and a telephone hotline is available for anyone with an urgent enquiry. The overall number of patients is expected to double in 2013.
Handover of Services in Phnom Penh Prisons
Since February 2010, MSF has been working in three prisons in the capital Phnom Penh. Teams provide care and treatment for HIV and TB. The program is in the process of being handed over to a number of national organizations. Most support will stop by July 2013, although staff will remain to care for patients with HIV.
At the end of 2012, MSF had 129 staff in Cambodia. MSF started working in the country in 1979.