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Central African Republic
Conflict across large areas of the Central African Republic at the end of 2012 increased health needs and further destabilized the fragile health system.
Thousands of people fled into the bush, and hospitals and health posts were abandoned. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams, already working in five regions across the country, continued activities and launched extra mobile clinics to attend to the medical needs of the displaced. An emergency surgical team began work in Kaga-Bandoro, in the north, and donations were made to hospitals and clinics in locations affected by violence.
Urgent health crisis
The conflict only exacerbated medical needs, which were already huge even in stable areas of the country. The health system suffers from a lack of qualified staff and there are few public facilities outside the capital. Shortages of essential medicines are frequent and many people cannot afford to pay the fees required for treatment. In short, a large proportion of the population does not have access even to the most basic healthcare, and mortality rates are above emergency levels.
MSF teams work with the Ministry of Health in seven hospitals and more than 30 health posts, providing a wide range of services: basic and specialist healthcare, maternity and pediatric services, surgery, HIV and TB care, and treatment for neglected diseases, including sleeping sickness (human African
Testing new tools for sleeping sickness
The Central African Republic is one of the few countries where sleeping sickness remains a problem. Sleeping sickness attacks the central nervous system and is deadly if untreated, but both diagnosis and treatment are complex and difficult to administer. In Batangafo, in Ouham, MSF is using a new rapid diagnostic test for the disease and participating in clinical trials of a new oral treatment for last-stage sleeping sickness developed by the not-for-profit research and development organization, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). The mobile sleeping sickness team screened more than 4,500 people for the disease in the southeast of the country. Access to the region has been difficult for some years due to attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army, but in 2012 MSF was able to reach more people as many left Zémio, in Haut-Mbomou, and returned to their home villages to start farming again.
At the end of 2012, MSF had 1,300 staff in the Central African Republic. MSF first worked in the country in 1996.