MSF suspends Degeha Bur programme following fatal attack

International staff : 27
National staff : 170
On 7th February 2000, 10 heavily armed men opened fire on an MSF vehicle travelling in the Ogaden desert, killing the driver and wounding the two passengers. The more seriously injured passenger was an MSF logistician. MSF immediately suspended the Deghabur programme and evacuated all staff back to Addis Abeba. This was primarily a health and a water and sanitation program. MSF will also stop its ongoing exploratory mission in Gode where a team was carring out nutritional and medical surveillance for a famine and measles alert. This is the third time in the past 12 months where humanitarian workers have been targeted in the Ogaden region.

In the Somali region, MSF decided to continue its tuberculosis (TB) programme in Jijiga which has been running since 1997. There are currently over 1,000 patients enrolled in the programme which is based on the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course chemotherapy (DOTS) strategy. Unfortunately, the programme is constantly at risk because of insecurity.

In the capital Addis Abeba, 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.

Since May 1996, MSF has been working on developing water supplies for people living in the isolated and inaccessible Wag-Hamra area of 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 which centres around the Anna area in the South Omo region, involves the construction of health posts, redynamising health programmes, facilitating the training of health care workers and traditional birth assistants (TBAs). Health care assistance is being provided to isolated villagers for the first time in over 20 years.

In the northern Tigray region which borders Eritrea, MSF provides surgical assistance in Mekele Hospital and Adigrat Hospital. There is currently an international surgeon working there, and an orthopaedic surgeon will arrive. MSF is facilitating access for civilians to surgical care, training medical doctors and bringing in an orthopaedic surgeon. The military situation is stable although there was a flare up in February 2000. In Adigrat, MSF is assisting the authorities with a big influx of displaced people by upgrading water and sanitation conditions. Hygiene training, public latrines and wells are provided by the MSF team with participation from the local community. MSF will also implement a similar programme in Welle Nebe near the border for 5000 displaced people to cover urgent needs.

In the northeastern Afar region, MSF has also introduced surgery in the region's only hospital which is located in Dubti. Training for hospital staff is provided.

In Woldya, the capital of North Wollo, MSF's surgical training programme finished in September 1999. The MSF team in collaboration with the Woldya Hospital staff is now opening an intensive care unit.

Close to the border with Sudan, MSF has finished a water and sanitation programme in Bong camp in the Gambella region for 13,000 Sudanese. In Dima MSF has started providing assistance to 10,000 refugees. The team is running a water programme as well as hygiene training. In Menkouch, the team supports a local clinic. Assistance is also provided to 4,500 newly arrived Sudanese refugees in Bambudei.

MSF treats kala azar

In northwestern part of the Tigray region, MSF runs a Kala Azar programme in Mykadra. It has been going since the epidemic in August 1997. Running drug trials has been very important because it is always a struggle for find affordable treatment for disease in the this part of Africa. MSF has treated more than 1,000 since January 1998. A comparative drug trial has been finalised and as a result a cheaper drug is being used to treat kala azar patients. The total population of the Mykadra area is 35,000. A large portion of these are displaced from Humera where we worked until insecurity forced us out. MSF teams are upgrading water and sanitation conditions, improving facilities in medical clinics and carrying out clinical work.

To the south of Addis Abeba, MSF is also running another kala azar programme in Konzo where the disease is endemic, where training and drugs are being provided. The programme is targeting 200,000 people over a period of 10 months where kala azar is endemic.

To date, 200 have been treated and five national health workers have been trained. This is a satellite programme from Mykadra. MSF is also running a badly needed supplementary feeding programme because of the consecutive droughts over the last three years. MSF targets the under fives, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers. An MSF survey has shown that the global malnutrition rate was over 22% when the programme started last October.