Cameroon: Widening access to AIDS treatment

Over 860,000 or 11.8% of Cameroon's adults live with HIV/AIDS. In January 2001, it became the first country in Africa where MSF introduced antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for people with limited resources. By the end of July 2002, 102 people in the capital Yaoundé were receiving free ARV treatment through this program. MSF also provides medical follow-up to 40 patients receiving ARV treatment through another channel; trains local doctors and health personnel; and has helped the government and health authorities to find a cheaper, non-patented source for ARV drugs (India). A second HIV/AIDS program was set up in Douala in August 2001. MSF runs testing, counseling and prevention activities in the outpatient departments of two hospitals, and provides drugs against opportunistic infections to low-income patients. The team averages 600 consultations per month. In October 2001, MSF and partner organizations identified over 400 cases of Buruli ulcer, a severely deforming mycobacterial infection that manifests itself in swellings and skin lesions, in the central districts of Ayos and Akonolinga. At least 200 of those infected need surgery; more than half of them are children under 15. MSF is starting a treatment and information program to fight this often disabling disease in September 2002. MSF began working in Cameroon in 2000. International staff: 8 National staff: 18