Congo-Brazzaville: MSF helps revive national sleeping sickness program

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Basic health care Aid to massive flows of returning displaced people evolved into support for several hospitals and health centers in and around Brazzaville, the capital, and the cities of Kinkala, Mindouli, Sibiti, and Mussendjo. MSF relaunched medical services, trained health staff, helped reconstruct health facilities, and carried out vaccinations. Work in Kinkala finished in September 2000 and in Mussendjo in April 2001, but continues in Brazzaville, Mindouli, and Sibiti. Sleeping sickness The hospital in the eastern city of Gamboma was a public center for treating sleeping sickness until civil war forced the closure of the national sleeping sickness program in 1995. In October 2000, MSF began work in Gamboma, initially helping the Ministry of Health (MOH) revise the national sleeping sickness protocol. In March 2001, 16 Congolese health workers were trained in the new protocol, and in April the Gamboma sleeping sickness unit became functional again, with 62 patients put under treatment in April and May. Additional screening of about 30,000 people along a 120km stretch of the Congo River began in May. Caring for victims of rape and sexual violence Since April 2000, MSF has supported the national program to aid victims of sexual violence, based in three hospitals and a health clinic in Brazzaville. While massive rape linked to the conflict has ceased, rape and sexual violence are still common. At Makelekele hospital, MSF provides medical and psychological support to rape victims and offers prophylactic treatment to help prevent HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. There is a similar follow-up of children born as a result of rape. In 2000, 109 women and 10 children received the preventive treatment. Refugees When around 5,000 people fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for northeastern Congo-Brazzaville in May 2000, MSF established an aid project for refugees in a camp near the town of Ndjoundou. More refugees entered the country in August 2000, with nearly 25,000 people concentrated in the town of Bétou on the Ubangui River. The area health post was ill-equipped, and no other aid was in place. MSF established a mobile clinic and set up dispensaries along the river. A broader program to support in- and outpatient care for refugees and area residents is now underway. CAPTION: These young people, displaced by conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are eager to learn at this school in Kanyabayonga. The local population took in about 20,000 displaced people. International staff: 25 National staff: 212