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MSF in Zambia, 2004
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In Zambia, MSF activities are focused on helping people with AIDS. Zambia has one of the worst rates of HIV infection in the world with more than 20 percent of adults estimated to be HIV-positive.
Since 2002, MSF has worked to provide comprehensive care to those living with HIV/AIDS – about one in four people – in the Nchelenge district of Luapula province in northeastern Zambia. Many of these people have little access to medical care, so in addition to education and prevention work, voluntary counseling and testing, care and treatment of opportunistic infections, MSF began to treat people with lifeextending antiretroviral (ARV) medications in February 2004. By July 2004, 59 patients were receiving ARVs and MSF aims to treat 400 patients with ARVs by the end of 2005.
MSF also carries out operational research in Zambia, documenting the progress and difficulties of providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care in a poor, rural setting. Cholera is endemic to Zambia, and outbreaks are common during the rainy season, which lasts from October to April. In January 2004, MSF responded to a cholera outbreak in the capital, Lusaka. In collaboration with others, MSF helped establish seven cholera treatment units and to train local staff. In two cholera-treatment units, located in Matero and Chawama, the MSF team focused on installing latrines and showers, educating the public about the disease, and providing direct patient care, as well as improving sanitation in nearby neighborhoods. Before the end of the epidemic, nearly 6,500 cases of cholera had been registered and 205 people had died. When the epidemic began to decline in April 2004, MSF handed the project over to local authorities.
The recent peace in Angola has encouraged thousands of displaced Angolans to return home from Zambia and other neighboring countries. MSF began working in Maheba refugee camp in 1999, when an influx of Angolan refugees nearly doubled the size of the camp to more than 50,000. MSF oversaw water distribution and provided support to medical clinics in the camp. The MSF team also assisted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' official return program by providing medical screening of returnees. As the camp has emptied, in October 2003, MSF handed the project over to the Zambian Ministry of Health.
MSF has worked in Zambia since 1999.