Posts tagged Médecins Sans Frontières

Cholera Epidemic Escalates Along Sierra Leone and Guinea Border

The onset of the rainy season in West Africa has caused an increase in cholera cases on both sides of the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea. More than 13,000 people have been admitted to hospitals in the capital cities of Freetown and Conakry since February, when the disease was declared an epidemic. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) currently has more than 800 beds available to treat cholera patients and is opening additional cholera treatment centers and rehydration points in collaboration with local authorities.

Cholera, which spreads through contaminated water and flourishes in unsanitary conditions, causes days of diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and leaves patients visibly emaciated after. It is a punishing affliction. “I want to die,” whispers a patient in MSF’s treatment center in the Mabella slum in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “I’m tired, tired of this disease.”Photo: A 10-year-old patient recovers from cholera at Donka Cholera Treatment Center in Conakry, Guinea.

Guinea 2012 © Holly Pickett/MSF

Cholera Epidemic Escalates Along Sierra Leone and Guinea Border

The onset of the rainy season in West Africa has caused an increase in cholera cases on both sides of the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea. More than 13,000 people have been admitted to hospitals in the capital cities of Freetown and Conakry since February, when the disease was declared an epidemic. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) currently has more than 800 beds available to treat cholera patients and is opening additional cholera treatment centers and rehydration points in collaboration with local authorities.

Cholera, which spreads through contaminated water and flourishes in unsanitary conditions, causes days of diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and leaves patients visibly emaciated after. It is a punishing affliction. “I want to die,” whispers a patient in MSF’s treatment center in the Mabella slum in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “I’m tired, tired of this disease.

Photo: A 10-year-old patient recovers from cholera at Donka Cholera Treatment Center in Conakry, Guinea.
Guinea 2012 © Holly Pickett/MSF

Some came from far away, having traveled up to 150 kilometers [about 93 miles] to reach us. A good number arrived long after the initial injury had occurred rather than in the acute or semi-acute phase, [with] some arriving simply too late to be saved. Among them were patients who had not been able to have any post-operative care after their surgery, patients who received inadequate care and others who hadn’t received any medical care at all.
Kelly Dilworth, an MSF anesthetist who has worked for MSF for nine years, spent one month on mission in Syria. She recalls the pain of the wounded people she was treating and the severity of their injuries in a context where it’s difficult to get appropriate care in time.
Interview: Fighting Neglected Diseases Among Italy’s Migrant Populations

Since early 2012, more than 1,000 migrants have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily by boat from Libya. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is monitoring the humanitarian and medical situation and providing screening and treatment for tuberculosis and Chagas disease, two neglected diseases to which migrants are particularly vulnerable. In this interview, Dr. Silvia Garelli, MSF head of mission in Italy, discusses MSF’s activities there and the health challenges migrants face.What is MSF currently doing to help migrants in Italy?
The conditions and health situation faced by migrants without papers in the centers for identification and expulsion continue to be extremely dire, and the situation has been aggravated by an extension of the detention period up to 18 months. Health services at these are subcontracted to private firms instead of being provided by the Ministry of Public Health, and a lack of effective coordination is causing problems that directly affect patients. For example, diseases such as tuberculosis that must be detected very early are poorly diagnosed and treated among migrants, despite the existence of national protocols. Outside of the centers, MSF has identified another medical need that primarily affects migrants (in this case, those from Latin America) and that is not covered by the national system at all: diagnosis and treatment of Chagas disease. Chagas is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by the bite of insects especially prevalent in Latin America.Read the rest of the interview here.Photo: Night view of Mineo, an asylum-seeker’s village where MSF provides mental health care for migrants.

Italy 2011 © Mattia Insolera

Interview: Fighting Neglected Diseases Among Italy’s Migrant Populations

Since early 2012, more than 1,000 migrants have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily by boat from Libya. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is monitoring the humanitarian and medical situation and providing screening and treatment for tuberculosis and Chagas disease, two neglected diseases to which migrants are particularly vulnerable. In this interview, Dr. Silvia Garelli, MSF head of mission in Italy, discusses MSF’s activities there and the health challenges migrants face.

What is MSF currently doing to help migrants in Italy?

The conditions and health situation faced by migrants without papers in the centers for identification and expulsion continue to be extremely dire, and the situation has been aggravated by an extension of the detention period up to 18 months. Health services at these are subcontracted to private firms instead of being provided by the Ministry of Public Health, and a lack of effective coordination is causing problems that directly affect patients. For example, diseases such as tuberculosis that must be detected very early are poorly diagnosed and treated among migrants, despite the existence of national protocols. Outside of the centers, MSF has identified another medical need that primarily affects migrants (in this case, those from Latin America) and that is not covered by the national system at all: diagnosis and treatment of Chagas disease. Chagas is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by the bite of insects especially prevalent in Latin America.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Photo: Night view of Mineo, an asylum-seeker’s village where MSF provides mental health care for migrants.
Italy 2011 © Mattia Insolera

Sudanese Refugees Battle To Endure Disease and Desperation in Yida

An aerial views of the Yida camps, where some 60,000 Sudanese refugees are seeking sanctuary just 12 miles inside the borders of South Sudan, and where mortality rates for children and adults alike are well above emergency thresholds.

Having fled aerial bombardments and longstanding deprivation, they found in Yida a sprawling camp short on resources and services and offering living conditions that have worsened dramatically with the onset of the rainy season. Photographer John Stanmeyer of VII Photo is in Yida this week, and captured the following images of people in dire need of assistance, enduring circumstances that are already claiming, according to epidemiological data, the lives of more than five children each day. “The number of children dying in Yida is appalling,” said André Heller Pérache, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, earlier this month.Photo: South Sudan 2012 © John Stanmyer/VII

Sudanese Refugees Battle To Endure Disease and Desperation in Yida

An aerial views of the Yida camps, where some 60,000 Sudanese refugees are seeking sanctuary just 12 miles inside the borders of South Sudan, and where mortality rates for children and adults alike are well above emergency thresholds.

Having fled aerial bombardments and longstanding deprivation, they found in Yida a sprawling camp short on resources and services and offering living conditions that have worsened dramatically with the onset of the rainy season. Photographer John Stanmeyer of VII Photo is in Yida this week, and captured the following images of people in dire need of assistance, enduring circumstances that are already claiming, according to epidemiological data, the lives of more than five children each day. “The number of children dying in Yida is appalling,” said André Heller Pérache, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, earlier this month.

Photo: South Sudan 2012 © John Stanmyer/VII

Take Two (Or, My Last Day in Chad)

“Today I leave Chad. It has been a hectic ending, and I will work until I board the plane tonight—but even in all of the craziness I have had time to reflect on my last few months here, and the impact that we have as a humanitarian organization.

“At one point in the week I took a break with our local health promoter. We were sitting outside a tent of the malnutrition hospital, sipping painfully sweet tea, when we heard the cries of a mother who had just lost her child. We live in the hospital compound, and these are the cries that often wake me at night.

“Youssouf, the health promoter, said, “She cries, and then with all of the other mothers she will pray. Pray that the child will return as a bird or as a tree, but not as a human.” I pondered the cultural significance of this, wondered if it is bad luck to return two consecutive times as a human—and in the end I asked for clarification. “No one,” he said, “wants to have to do this again. No one should ever have to be a human in Chad—better to be a bird or a tree.” The words stayed with me. They gave me a better insight into why mothers refuse to have their children transferred to the hospital.”Read the rest of Trich Newport’s blog from her time working with MSF in Chad. Photo: MSF staff care for a severely malnourished child at the Massakory intensive therapeutic feeding center, where Trish worked
Chad 2012 © Stephanie Christaki

Take Two (Or, My Last Day in Chad)

“Today I leave Chad. It has been a hectic ending, and I will work until I board the plane tonight—but even in all of the craziness I have had time to reflect on my last few months here, and the impact that we have as a humanitarian organization.

“At one point in the week I took a break with our local health promoter. We were sitting outside a tent of the malnutrition hospital, sipping painfully sweet tea, when we heard the cries of a mother who had just lost her child. We live in the hospital compound, and these are the cries that often wake me at night.

“Youssouf, the health promoter, said, “She cries, and then with all of the other mothers she will pray. Pray that the child will return as a bird or as a tree, but not as a human.” I pondered the cultural significance of this, wondered if it is bad luck to return two consecutive times as a human—and in the end I asked for clarification. “No one,” he said, “wants to have to do this again. No one should ever have to be a human in Chad—better to be a bird or a tree.” The words stayed with me. They gave me a better insight into why mothers refuse to have their children transferred to the hospital.”

Read the rest of Trich Newport’s blog from her time working with MSF in Chad.

Photo: MSF staff care for a severely malnourished child at the Massakory intensive therapeutic feeding center, where Trish worked

Chad 2012 © Stephanie Christaki

"I’m Going to Tell The Whole World": An HIV "Expert Patient," In Her Own Words


In 2001, I tested positive for HIV. At that time, I was 25 years old and in a terrible state. I had lost a lot of weight, I was vomiting, had cold and hot rashes and was saying weird things. My whole body was covered with sores and I was confined to a wheelchair. Literally, I was more dead than alive.
In 2004, I started volunteering for an organization that helped people living with HIV/AIDS in Nhlangano, the capital of Shiselweni region. They asked me to share my experiences, and I told people about antiretroviral treatment and what it had done for me.

When I started seeing MSF cars in Nhlangano in 2009, I became curious and asked around. Someone told me what MSF was doing, and immediately I wrote my application letter and was hired as an “expert patient.” My role is to do pre and post-test counseling and to be there for the patients when they need support.

I really like the work with the patients. I know I give them hope by telling my story. Today I am fine. I have a healthy four-year-old boy who is HIV negative. Before I had him, five children I brought to this world had died, each after six months. My older son is 17, and he is well, too. I know what the patients are going through, and telling them my story and how important it is to stick to the treatment encourages them. The other day a young girl even told me I was her role model. That made me very happy.Photo: Thembi (right) with her two sons
Swaziland 2012 © Irene Jancsy/MSF

"I’m Going to Tell The Whole World": An HIV "Expert Patient," In Her Own Words

In 2001, I tested positive for HIV. At that time, I was 25 years old and in a terrible state. I had lost a lot of weight, I was vomiting, had cold and hot rashes and was saying weird things. My whole body was covered with sores and I was confined to a wheelchair. Literally, I was more dead than alive.

In 2004, I started volunteering for an organization that helped people living with HIV/AIDS in Nhlangano, the capital of Shiselweni region. They asked me to share my experiences, and I told people about antiretroviral treatment and what it had done for me.

When I started seeing MSF cars in Nhlangano in 2009, I became curious and asked around. Someone told me what MSF was doing, and immediately I wrote my application letter and was hired as an “expert patient.” My role is to do pre and post-test counseling and to be there for the patients when they need support.

I really like the work with the patients. I know I give them hope by telling my story. Today I am fine. I have a healthy four-year-old boy who is HIV negative. Before I had him, five children I brought to this world had died, each after six months. My older son is 17, and he is well, too. I know what the patients are going through, and telling them my story and how important it is to stick to the treatment encourages them. The other day a young girl even told me I was her role model. That made me very happy.

Photo: Thembi (right) with her two sons
Swaziland 2012 © Irene Jancsy/MSF

CNN Video: Shelling Haunts Syrian Family 

See how our teams are providing crucial care to refugees from Syria through the story of one family struggling to survive after a shell slammed into their home.

CNN Video: Shelling Haunts Syrian Family

See how our teams are providing crucial care to refugees from Syria through the story of one family struggling to survive after a shell slammed into their home.

The rainy season has turned these camps into nightmarish places to be a refugee. Access roads are disintegrating and it is a struggle to improve living conditions. This is causing a catastrophic health situation. While MSF can continue providing treatment, a huge increase of aid is needed to avoid much more illness and death, especially of children….The situation requires all organizations to work in full emergency mode right now.

Bart Janssens, MSF operations director

Sudanese refugees living in appalling conditions in camps in South Sudan are falling ill and dying at rates alarmingly above accepted international standards for emergencies.

Read more on the situation here.

Evolving But Still Lethal Violence Plagues Yemen’s South

On August 4, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral service taking place in the southern town of Jaar in Yemen’s Abyan province, killing over 40 people and injuring many more. Some 50 casualties were admitted to the Doctors Without Borders’ emergency surgical hospital in the town of Aden, where medical staff worked through the night to manage and treat the influx of patients.

The following day, three people—two of them children—were admitted with severe blast injuries after coming into contact with unexploded devices in Jaar and Zinjibar.

Read more on the situation in Yemen.

Photo:A young patient at an MSF hospital in Yemen’s south, last May.

Yemen 2012 © Saoussen Ben Cheikh/MSF

Evolving But Still Lethal Violence Plagues Yemen’s South

On August 4, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral service taking place in the southern town of Jaar in Yemen’s Abyan province, killing over 40 people and injuring many more. Some 50 casualties were admitted to the Doctors Without Borders’ emergency surgical hospital in the town of Aden, where medical staff worked through the night to manage and treat the influx of patients.

The following day, three people—two of them children—were admitted with severe blast injuries after coming into contact with unexploded devices in Jaar and Zinjibar.

Read more on the situation in Yemen.

Photo:A young patient at an MSF hospital in Yemen’s south, last May.

Yemen 2012 © Saoussen Ben Cheikh/MSF

The number of children dying in Yida camp is appalling, and the high number of children in our feeding program in Batil camp is just the tip of the iceberg. The majority of patients in both camps are malnourished children, who are further weakened from diarrhea, malaria, or respiratory infections, and quickly enter a vicious circle of illness leading to further complications and death. Our medical teams are working round the clock in desperate conditions trying to save lives.

André Heller-Pérache, MSF head of mission in South Sudan

Sudanese refugees living in appalling conditions in camps in South Sudan are falling ill and dying at rates alarmingly above accepted international standards for emergencies.

"Despite the rain, mud,  the MSF clinic in Batil, South Sudan is always full."


Follow Gregory Vandendaelen @gregvdd, Comms advisor for MSF, currently tweeting from Batil and Doro camps in South Sudan.

"Despite the rain, mud, the MSF clinic in Batil, South Sudan is always full."

Follow Gregory Vandendaelen @gregvdd, Comms advisor for MSF, currently tweeting from Batil and Doro camps in South Sudan.

Health Catastrophe in South Sudan Refugee Camps

Sudanese refugees living in appalling conditions in camps in South Sudan are falling ill and dying at rates alarmingly above accepted international standards for emergencies.

It’s very important to react quickly to find where the disease (Ebola) is focused and to isolate it as fast as possible. It is also essential to take care of the caregivers, which means supporting and working closely with the Ugandan health teams who are already struggling to stop the virus from spreading.

Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF’s emergency coordinator for the Uganda Ebola intervention.

An emergency team from the international medical humanitarian organization MSF is helping to fight an outbreak of Ebola virus in western Uganda.

Battling Cholera in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s capital. Freetown, is currently struggling to contain a cholera outbreak that has affected over 1,500 people and killed at least 17 to date. MSF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, is already running three cholera treatment units in the city and has treated more than 500 patients. Because the number of people infected continues to grow, however, MSF plans to open two additional treatment facilities up in the next 10 days.

“We are moving quickly to increase our capacity to handle all the new patients that will arrive,” says Karen Van den Brande, MSF head of mission in Sierra Leone. “Our present cholera treatment facilities are stretched to the limit with patients. The patients that we see are of all ages, so it’s not just children or already weak people that are at risk.”Photo: Cholera patients at Marcauley cholera treatment unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone © Florence Demeulin/MSF

Battling Cholera in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s capital. Freetown, is currently struggling to contain a cholera outbreak that has affected over 1,500 people and killed at least 17 to date. MSF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, is already running three cholera treatment units in the city and has treated more than 500 patients. Because the number of people infected continues to grow, however, MSF plans to open two additional treatment facilities up in the next 10 days.

“We are moving quickly to increase our capacity to handle all the new patients that will arrive,” says Karen Van den Brande, MSF head of mission in Sierra Leone. “Our present cholera treatment facilities are stretched to the limit with patients. The patients that we see are of all ages, so it’s not just children or already weak people that are at risk.”

Photo: Cholera patients at Marcauley cholera treatment unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone © Florence Demeulin/MSF

The Risks of Childbirth in Somalia

Doctor Hamida Shakib Mohamed just helped deliver a healthy boy weighing 3.6 kilograms [about 8 pounds]. It’s a good thing the mother made it to this health center; it was a difficult labor and she needed the assistance of a skilled birth attendant using a vacuum device to complete the delivery. She lives in a village about 110 kilometers [about 68 miles] north of here, but her father insisted she make the trip. He appreciates the MSF–supported services here after his wife was treated for post-partum hemorrhaging just a few months ago. “We give the right care," says Dr. Hamida, "so people come to us.”

Last December, MSF expanded its medical services in Galcayo North to include maternity and obstetric care. The number of deliveries has since boomed to about 200 per month, with many mothers coming from increasingly far away. Dr. Hamida is happy about that. She’s Somali, educated in Mogadishu in the 1980s, but holds a foreign passport and has lived abroad for most of the past two decades. “Now that my children are grown,” she says “I’m free and I want to give my energy to the Somali community.” She couldn’t be more needed.A baby rests in the inpatient post-natal department of MSF’s Galcayo South hospital.
Somalia 2011 © Siegfried Modola

The Risks of Childbirth in Somalia

Doctor Hamida Shakib Mohamed just helped deliver a healthy boy weighing 3.6 kilograms [about 8 pounds]. It’s a good thing the mother made it to this health center; it was a difficult labor and she needed the assistance of a skilled birth attendant using a vacuum device to complete the delivery. She lives in a village about 110 kilometers [about 68 miles] north of here, but her father insisted she make the trip. He appreciates the MSF–supported services here after his wife was treated for post-partum hemorrhaging just a few months ago. “We give the right care," says Dr. Hamida, "so people come to us.

Last December, MSF expanded its medical services in Galcayo North to include maternity and obstetric care. The number of deliveries has since boomed to about 200 per month, with many mothers coming from increasingly far away. Dr. Hamida is happy about that. She’s Somali, educated in Mogadishu in the 1980s, but holds a foreign passport and has lived abroad for most of the past two decades. “Now that my children are grown,” she says “I’m free and I want to give my energy to the Somali community.” She couldn’t be more needed.

A baby rests in the inpatient post-natal department of MSF’s Galcayo South hospital.
Somalia 2011 © Siegfried Modola