Eritrea + 1 more

MSF/Ethiopia: Support to isolated populations

News and Press Release
Originally published
Source: MSF 1998-1999 Activity Report
National staff : 130
International staff : 32

Since May 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea, which became independent in 1993, have been at war. Eritrea lays claim to the area around Badme and Shirao.

In Woldya, the capital of North Wollo, MSF runs a surgical training programme for the benefit of four hospitals. The programme involves practical training for surgeons and surgical nurses, the supply of surgical equipment and the renovation of operating theatres. MSF also supports the public health system in North Wollo. Here, a team works out of Woldya Hospital and four health centres. The programme focuses largely on training health care workers, providing a referral service, supplying medicine and medical equipment and renovating health structures. In the northeastern Afar region, MSF has also introduced surgery in the region's only hospital which is located in Dubti. Training is provided at all levels.

In the capital, Addis Abeda, MSF runs an AIDS programme and supports AIDS and STD control in 13 health centres. MSF targets sex workers and focuses on providing education and raising awareness on AIDS and STDs in the community. Part of this programme also aims at improving family planning. In the Somali region, MSF has been running a tuberculosis (TB) treatment programme in Jijiga since 1997.

There are currently 1.110 patients enrolled in the programme which is based on the Directly Observed Treatment Short course chemotherapy (DOTS) strategy. Unfortunately, the programme is at risk because of insecurity. In Degeha bur, MSF runs a health and rehabilitation programme for health centres. MSF supplies drinking water to health structures which service both sedentary and nomadic populations. Here too, security problems have forced the team back to Jijiga for long periods.

Since May 1996 MSF works on developing water supplies for people living in isolated and inaccessible Wag-Hamra in the western Amhara region. MSF also trains villagers on judicious methods of storing and using water and on other health issues. The programme now incorporates several dozen villages. MSF has set up water and sanitation committees in the villages to ensure the longevity of the programme.

The Salamago Health Development Project evolved as a response to the plight of three tribal groups living a precarious existence in the south west of Ethiopia. The project involves the construction of health posts, redynamising health programmes, facilitating the training of health workers and traditional birth assistants (TBAs). Health care assistance is being provided to isolated villagers for the first time in over 20 years.

Following the fighting which ensued when Eritrea invaded the Badme region in May 1998, a large number of Ethiopians and Eritreans were displaced from the homes. MSF started an emergency aid programme for the displaced. Surgery was carried out in the hospitals in Mekelle and Humera. In the Northwest, a drinking-water and sanitation programme was launched for 12,000 refugees. The programme for the treatment of the fatal disease kala azar, already in progress in Humera, was continued albeit at a slower pace due to the war.

In November, MSF organised a kala azar workshop in Addis Ababa, which was attended by participants in MSF projects in northern and southern Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as by representatives of local organisations and WHO.