Chad: Twin epidemics hit the country

© Dieter Telemans Click on image for full size A young girl stoically receives her meningitis vaccination from the MSF team in Chari-Baguirmi, Chad
The disease resurfaced again in February 2001. This time MSF, working with the Ministry of Health, coordinated a team that vaccinated over 800,000 children. Following closely on the heels of the measles outbreak, a severe meningitis epidemic struck Chad in February. MSF undertook a massive vaccination of 1.3 million people. To cope with both epidemics, MSF brought in 24 additional volunteers and worked with over 1,600 extra local staff. See page 30 for an overview of the meningitis epidemics that struck Africa's "meningitis belt" this year. As if the twin epidemics were not enough, in late spring 2001 it became clear that Chad was faced with an impending nutritional emergency, due to the failure of the harvest for two consecutive years. MSF immediately flew in several tons of high-protein biscuits and other rations. The situation seemed to stabilize, but MSF continued to monitor developments. Click on image for full size
Twenty years in Chad This flurry of emergency activity marked 20 years of MSF work in Chad. For much of that time, MSF has supported - through care, training, drug donations, and infrastructure rehabilitation - several health districts serving a total of 1.5 million people. Over the years, the country's health system has made great improvements: infrastructure is functional, health workers are motivated (although there is still a shortage of qualified health staff), and response to epidemics has become more rapid. MSF, having obtained its principal objectives, is slowly reducing its general involvement in some of the health districts and hopes to focus more on training, particularly in minor surgery for generalist doctors, and in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis care. International staff: 18 National staff: 40