Vulnerable groups in Egypt, including migrants and people in poor, remote areas, do not have access to critical health services. Mothers and children in some isolated settlements and rural areas lack access to the specialist services they need. In August, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened a mother and child clinic in Abu Elian, a rural settlement in El Marg district, on the outskirts of Cairo. Until then, it had been more than an hour’s journey to the closest medical facility, and transport and treatment costs posed barriers to care. Staff in Abu Elian carried out nearly 9,000 consultations. Most of the children they saw were suffering from respiratory tract infections, intestinal parasites, skin diseases or diarrhea. A 24-hour emergency referral system is in place for pregnant women, with MSF providing transport and covering hospital costs. Many of the refugees and migrants living in Cairo and throughout Egypt have experienced violence and have almost no access to health services. MSF opened a clinic for women in Nasr City, in Cairo, offering mental healthcare and treatment for victims of violence, and treated more than 430 people.

Strengthening Capacity for Tuberculosis Care

In September, MSF staff in Qalyubia governorate trained 20 doctors and 20 nurses from the Ministry of Health in tuberculosis (TB) care, focusing on infection control of this communicable and potentially deadly disease.

Emergency Assistance in Gaza and Southern Sinai

When the ‘Pillar of Defense’ military operation was launched on Gaza in
November, MSF donated close to five tons of medicines and medical supplies to the Gaza Ministry of Health and to El-Arish hospital, the Egyptian referral hospital that received some of the wounded.

Expanding treatment for hepatitis C
According to government data, there is an alarming prevalence of hepatitis C in the country, with a national average of one in every five people infected. In rural areas, prevalence for certain age groups reaches up to 55 per cent and 38 per cent for men and women, respectively, and public health facilities are having difficulty meeting medical needs. Passed primarily through contact with infected blood, hepatitis C is a chronic disease affecting the liver that can cause serious health problems, including cirrhosis and liver failure. MSF is awaiting approval for a new model of care that can be implemented with the Ministry of Health in remote areas.

Mona * brought her daughter to the mother and child clinic at Abu Elian.

My two-year-old daughter suffered from a lung infection for months. I sought help in other healthcare facilities, but the infection persisted. Now I tell all the people I know that since I brought my daughter to the MSF clinic, she received proper healthcare and I haven’t needed to bring her again.

Earlier, when a child would get a fever, the mother would wait for a week before seeking medical care at a healthcare facility. More mothers in the area are now bringing their children to this clinic; they know it is easily accessible for them and free.

*Name has been changed.

At the end of 2012 MSF had 63 staff in Egypt. MSF has been working in the country since 2010.