China: MSF prevents onset of water-borne disease

From the 1998-1999
MSF International Activity Report

National staff : 81
International staff : 28

The floods of 1998 were the largest in China for over 50 years, affecting hundreds of millions and killing over 4,000 people. MSF intervened in five affected provinces, distributing chlorine for water disinfection, basic medicines, jerry cans and blankets to displaced people living in makeshift shelters.

MSF has a number of projects ensuring both a supply of water and adequate hygiene awareness to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. In Tibet, MSF is constructing wells, catchments, and taps for over 50,000 people in more than 170 villages. In Yunnan Province, MSF is helping villagers build their own catchments and conducting health and hygiene awareness programs in four minority villages.

Medical training in more remote areas is another priority for MSF. In five poor townships in Rongshui Miao Ethnic Autonomous Area, Guangxi, one such MSF programme combines doctor training with the rehabilitation and construction of new hospitals. In ethnic Tibetan areas of Qinghai Province, MSF is training village and township doctors, rehabilitating clinics and a Mother and Child Hospital, running an iodine survey and collecting other medical data.

MSF is also working to prevent specific diseases in China. In both Tibet and neighbouring Sichuan, MSF continues to run a Kashin-Beck (also known as "Big Bone Disease") project, which both treats this debilitating joint disease with physiotherapy and searches for the causes of this still mysterious disease affecting three million people in China alone. On the Burmese border in Yunnan province, MSF started a Tuberculosis control program for two extremely poor ethnic minority counties where TB is endemic.