Madagascar: Focus on plight of street children

 

  • National staff : 15

     

  • International staff : 3

     

    In Madagascar, 74% of the population live under the poverty threshold. Marginalised populations such as street children, the institutionalised and detainees have little access to health care.

    In the capital, Antanarivo and in Antsirabe, MSF runs programmes targeting 6,500 children living on the streets. MSF is setting up a network of health care professionals in order to improve their access to health care. MSF legal experts are pushing for the authorities to respect children's' rights. Psychological and psychiatric assistance are provided to those who need it. At night, MSF runs mobile teams on the streets of the two cities.

    In the capital, MSF targets 700 minors living in seven institutions and the city prison. Assistance is also given to 230 female prisoners. Once again, MSF focuses not only on finding ways to ensure adequate access to health care for the target group but MSF legal experts are also working on behalf of individual child prisoners. MSF pushes the courts to bring a backlog of cases to trial so that all those children in preventive detention can be taken out of an environment so detrimental to their development. MSF carries out a similar programme on a smaller scale in Antsirabe.

    In Morondava on the western coast, MSF has been running a project to combat STDs and AIDS since September 1998. As AIDS prevention is a priority, raising awareness about transmission is an essential part of the programme. MSF intends to provide logistical and technical assistance to the laboratories in Morondava hospital with a view to limiting HIV transmission.

    Since 1997, MSF is relaunching basic health care structures including two referral hospitals in the southern district of Betioky, an area inhabited by 164,000 people. MSF trains staff, supervises hospital care, manages medical stocks, rehabilitates buildings and has set up a health information system. MSF's main focus is improving mother and child health care.

    In Ambovombe in the deepest south, MSF is part of an effort to run an early warning system for nutritional emergencies. MSF has recruited a Madagascan doctor to participate in an initiative run by the European Union and the AEDES agency, to plan for such emergencies. MSF also forms part of an emergency committee which focuses on how best to respond to catastrophe, whether it be a nutritional emergency or a natural disaster.