Honduras: MSF fights dengue fever, Chagas disease, and AIDS

© Juan Carlos Tomasi Click on image for full size A woman marks this house near Yoro, in central Honduras, after it has been sprayed to eradicate the small bugs that spread Chagas disease.
Chagas disease, a rare and often fatal illness, is endemic in parts of the country. Honduras is also home to about 70% of all AIDS cases registered in Central America. Dengue fever strikes the capital An epidemic of dengue fever broke out in September 2000, with most cases registered in Tegucigalpa. MSF teams worked with health center staff on case management and vector control, and helped educate people to prevent the spread of the disease. A separate urban health care program serving 40,000 people in Tegucigalpa's El Carrizal neighborhood ended in late 2000. In an effort to tackle the problem of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), MSF runs programs in Tegucigalpa, the capital, and in La Ceiba, a town on the Caribbean coast. Teams work to improve the case management and treatment skills of local staff, and drug donations ensure treatment of opportunistic infections and STDs. In La Ceiba, MSF also has a school-based education project for teenagers and parents in collaboration with a local NGO. Click on image for full size
Rural health care Chagas disease, a rare parasitic ailment transmitted by small bugs, is endemic in the mountainous regions of central Honduras. MSF programs address treatment and prevention: screening and treatment are carried out primarily among children, and fumigation is accomplished by mobile brigades who go from house to house in high-risk areas, checking for fleas and spraying insecticide. In the towns of Yoro and Olanchito in north-central Honduras, primary care programs focus on women and on children under five. MSF teams train local health staff, give logistical support to government vaccination activities, and help local medical staff improve analysis of nutritional and epidemiological data. As part of the program MSF has refurbished or built a number of health facilities and worked to improve water and sanitation systems. MSF recently opened a new health care and psychological support program among the Garifuna people on the Caribbean coast. Another project to increase food security in Choluteca will be turned over to an NGO more specialized in this area. MSF teams in Honduras supported teams in El Salvador, following the two earthquakes, with human resources and 30 tons of relief material. MSF first intervened in Honduras in 1974. International staff: 30 National staff: 137