Mauritania 1998

International staff:5 National staff: 7 New immigrants need aid Maaouya Ould Taya had an easy return to power in the presidential elections in December 1997. The political situation is calm and the economic outlook has improved. MSF is involved in a three-year programme in Toujounine, a recently settled neighbourhood lying ten kilometres from the centre of Nouakchott, the capital. The impoverished population of 79,686 is composed partly of migrants from rural areas escaping drought and famine, and partly of families displaced by floods in 1995. MSF's objective is to improve access to health care for both the local population and IDPs. The team is involved in a variety of activities aimed at improving primary health care, especially for women and children under five, ensuring that health structures meet national standards, supporting health service management and improving access to water and sanitation facilities. This includes the rehabilitation of the two existing health centres, the construction and equipping of a health post, and the installation of supplementary feeding units in the health centres. The team also trains personnel and provides education for the population in regard to health and hygiene. On the sanitation side, the quality of drinking water is monitored periodically. This was particularly important between end-August and November 1997, when there was a significant increase in acute diarrhoea with the suspicion that cholera was present.