Belgium 1998

Staffing: 10 (30/40 unpaid volunteers) DRUG ADDICTS NEED ACCESS MSF targets the increasing number of unemployed, homeless and destitute people excluded from social protection and without access to health care, including drug addicts and illegal immigrants. In 1998, MSF will close the Elisa Centre providing free anonymous HIV testing and information for those unable to address official structures directly, and psychological support to people identified as HIV positive and to their families. This 10-year-old project has successfully demonstrated the need for such facilities throughout the country and MSF is now working to convince the authorities to set them up within the health system. A mobile clinic offers medical-social consultations in Brussels, and from centres in Antwerp, Verviers and LiÃ?¨ge, providing access to basic care and social welfare for the marginalised. The team refers those requiring further help for tests and hospitalisation. This project is being extended during 1998 to focus particularly on publicising the plight of the marginalised among the general public and advocating on their behalf through political, institutional and media contacts. MSF is working to ensure the implementation of the December 1996 decree regarding illegal immigrants which requires medical services to provide them with urgent medical assistance. In partnership with a local association, another medical-social project targeting drug addicts among the marginalised offers methadone substitution and needle exchange, testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C, and facilitates contact with the welfare services. There is no state institution working on behalf of this group.