1 November 1998
IDPs and returnees need assistance NEED ASSISTANCE Although the ruling Frelimo party and the Renamo opposition have not resolved all their differences after 15 years of war, the government is working hard to exploit the country's natural resources and attract international investment. MSF provides financial support for health personnel, supervision and drugs and medical material for seven health centres in Mutarara district, Tete province (pop. 185,000) and has built six houses for their nurses. In Mutarara hospital, the team began constructing a surgical block, surgical ward, delivery room and maternity ward. Elective surgery and Caesarian sections began in two operating theatres after renovations had been completed in April 1998. In Mututuine district, Maputo province, MSF has almost completed a project improving access to health care for IDPs and returnees. This included assistance to Belavista's health centre and six health posts with maternity facilities. There are 55 beds in all. MSF assists in the training of health staff, mother-and-child health, consultation supervision, and the construction and equipping of health structures. In Gaza province, MSF's provides assistance in Chibuto district hospital and five health centres, as well as to PI and mother-and-child health teams (target pop. 170,000). This includes technical assistance, training for traditional birth attendants, the construction of latrines and renovations to Ministry of Health health structures destroyed during the war. Health education in relation to STD/AIDS, malaria and diarrhoea is promoted via a theatre group. Water and sanitation (wells, latrines, rubbish pits, chlorinating) is an important aspect of MSF's work in N'gauma and Mandimba districts, Niassa province (target pop. 146,000 - half of whom are returnees from Malawi). Here again, a theatre group is promoting health education. A cholera emergency A cholera outbreak began in August 1997 in Maputo. When 1,000 new cases were registered in one week in November, the authorities called for international help. MSF responded immediately. In February 1998, cholera gradually spread northwards to the provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, where MSF also intervened. More then 40 volunteers took part in interventions that lasted until the end of May. MSF flew in a planeload of logistical equipment and medical supplies, including huge quantities of Ringer lactate, the product used to rehydrate patients, and set up 16 cholera camps. An important aspect of the work was the prevention of new cases. This involved the chlorinating of water supplies, waste disposal arrangements and hygiene education. MSF treated 35,000 patients over the six-month period. MSF-CIS The MSF Consolidated Information System was set up in 1992 and collects information on the health and nutritional situation throughout the country. This is a joint project now implemented by MSF's sister organisation, AEDES (European Association for Development and Health. The objective of the information-gathering is to enable national and international agencies to assess the severity of nutritional problems and food availability in order to define future priorities and actions required. Negotiations are underway to hand this project over to the government department dealing with natural disasters.