Albania 1997-1998

Although there are competent health staff, even in the rural areas, there is a crucial lack of resources and a precarious health situation. The existing services has been stretched to their limit by the arrival of refugees from Kosovo. The chaotic events of early 1997 only served to highlight the scale of existing needs within the health structures. After an extensive assessment, MSF decided to concentrate on improving primary health care in the districts of Ballsh, Telepene and Permes in the south of the country, where the situation had deteriorated to the extent that many people were crossing into Greece for medical treatment. The current objectives are to improve the standard of equipment in the health centres, renovate the buildings, supply emergency drugs and renewable material, provide training in sterilisation and disinfecting techniques and support management. In June 1998, MSF responded to the influx of some 10,000 refugees in the Tropoje district of northern Albania by setting up a reception tent/way-station for them on a remote mountain side near the border. In order to anticipate the possible impact that the influx may have on the existing health structures, MSF has implemented a health data collection system. Most refugees have been housed with host families. MSF and OXFAM carried out a survey of the refugees' health as well as the water and sanitation conditions in this area.