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MSF in Cameroon, 2004
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Caring for people with AIDS and Buruli ulcer MSF is helping people with two health problems in Cameroon: HIV/AIDS, which affects an estimated 13 percent of the population, and Buruli ulcer, a debilitating disease.
MSF has been caring for people living with HIV/AIDS in Cameroon since December 2000. The following year, the organization began treating patients with life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) medicines. In the capital, Yaoundé, MSF runs an AIDS project that assists 1,000 people, of which 600 are receiving ARVs. Another prevention and treatment project began in the city of Douala in 2002, with ARV treatment started in early 2003. By June 2004, 736 patients were participating in that project with 198 receiving ARVs. The project staff anticipates that 400 people will be using ARVs by the end of 2004. MSF's project also focuses on counseling and helping to ease access to treatment.
In the district of Akonolinga, MSF treats people suffering from Buruli ulcer. Similar to leprosy, this disease seems to be contracted by people who come into contact with the bacteria in swamps and stagnant water. Once in the body, the bacteria destroy skin tissue and cause massive mutilations. A 2001 study done by MSF and another NGO in the districts of Ayos and Akonolinga found that more than 400 people out of every 100,000 had the disease.
At present, there is no curative treatment for this disease, and surgery is the only remedy available to ease symptoms. MSF began a surgical program to treat people with Buruli ulcer in 2002 and has assisted 235 patients so far. Sixty-six people received surgery in the first half of 2004. In February 2004, MSF responded to a cholera outbreak in the city of Douala and helped the district's health facilities in their effort to contain the disease. More than 1,700 cases were reported during the course of the outbreak. In May 2004, MSF ended its intervention.
MSF has worked in Cameroon since 2000.