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Republic of Congo
MSF in Republic of Congo, 2004
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A peace accord signed in March 2003 brought a halt to open hostilities in the country's Pool region near the capital city, Brazzaville. But the uneasy peace has not led to political progress in disarming the Ninja militia or integrating combatants back into community life. Tension remains high and MSF is one of the few organizations present in the area, which remains unstable, lawless and dangerous.
For more than two years, MSF has been responding to medical needs resulting from the area's devastation by civil war.
Currently, MSF staff members work in hospitals and mobile clinics in the Pool region towns of Kinkala and Kindama providing basic health care, performing emergency surgery and treating people with malaria and tuberculosis. Between December 2003 and May 2004, MSF averaged more than 10,000 patient consultations each month in the Pool region. In 2004, MSF added mental health care activities, including counseling and community outreach, to its health care program in Kinkala. MSF team members use individual and group counseling to help civilians work through traumatic war experiences.
Since June 2003, MSF staff members have been working in the Pool's Mindouli district, operating mobile clinics that visit ten sites, vaccinating children against common diseases including measles, polio and tuberculosis and offering medical support at the district hospital. Each month the team conducts about 3,000 medical consultations and admits 250 people to the hospital for further care.
In 2003, MSF rehabilitated the health center in the northeastern district of Bétou. This is an isolated area where many refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic now live. The construction project enabled MSF to increase the kinds of care available in the area. Teams can now offer tuberculosis treatment, more surgical care, prenatal consultations and other medical activities. The team in Bétou also carries out vaccination campaigns and runs mobile clinics.
More than 50,000 consultations were conducted in 2003. Approximately 26,000 people received outpatient consultations at the hospital and 35,000 were helped in the district health center and its mobile clinics.
Care for victims of sexual violence is another important part of MSF's activities in Brazzaville. Patients who visit Makélékélé or TalangaÃ¯ Hospital within 72 hours of an assault are given preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections, a voluntary HIV test, and, if female, emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. Pregnant women receive treatment to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their baby. All of these patients are encouraged to meet with an MSF psychologist to talk about their experience. Health care assistants, trained by MSF, visit the patients at home later to ensure that they are continuing their medical treatment and to encourage them to regularly consult the hospital psychologist. MSF has treated more than 600 people since the program began four years ago.
MSF also aids people suffering from sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis) in Nyazi, Bouenza, in the south of the country and in Mossaka, Cuvette Est, on the Congo River, some 450 kilometers north of Brazzaville. Since 2000, MSF has screened more than 250,000 people for sleeping sickness and treated more than 2,000 patients with the disease. Caused by parasites spread by tsetse flies, the disease is fatal unless treated.
MSF has worked in The Republic of Congo since 1997.