Peru: Curative program targets painful parasitic disease

© Bruno De Cock Click on image for full size Children play volleyball near their tent camp on the site of what used to be a fisherman's village in Camana, Peru. In June 2001, the earthquake and subsequent tidal wave destroyed the village.
The incidence of malaria, dengue fever, and leishmaniasis is increasing, and HIV/AIDS is a constant concern. For the last several years MSF has been focusing on AIDS-related projects in Lima. This year, MSF began a program to screen for and treat leishmaniasis, a painful disease that affects predominantly poor, isolated people in rural areas and developing countries. When an earthquake struck the country in June 2001, MSF provided medical care and other relief in the severely affected rural areas in the south. For more on aid after earthquakes in Peru, El Salvador, and India, see page 80. Fighting a neglected disease in rural Peru In March 2001, MSF launched a new curative program for people with leishmaniasis in San Martin de Pangoa, in the province of Satipo. In this region, numerous isolated villages are scattered in tropical forest, inhabited by indigenous people as well as migrants. As more and more trees are cut to make way for cultivation, people are increasingly exposed to the tiny fly that transmits this parasitic disease. Even though the Ministry of Health has established a leishmaniasis program, the area is so isolated that it is hard to effectively respond to the disease - which, in the forms found in Satipo, can destroy mucous membranes in the nose, mouth or throat (mucocutaneous leishmaniasis) or produce skin ulcers on exposed parts of the body (cutaneous leishmaniasis). The new MSF program screens and treats patients, and works to improve the diagnostic capacity of local medical staff. Click on image for full size
AIDS care and prevention In Lima, the capital, MSF runs a program to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS and improve access and quality of care for patients with these ailments. In addition to basic care and staff training, public education is very important. MSF teams work with health promoters and youth educators to raise awareness of preventive measures, through public events such as AIDS fairs. In 2001, MSF also helped local organizations in the cities of Cuzco, Ayacucho, and Iquitos adapt and use activities like the AIDS fair. MSF continued its HIV/AIDS prevention and care program in Lima's Lurigancho prison. In Villa El Salvador, a district of Lima, MSF runs a prevention and care module for children and adolescents on sexual and reproductive health. Primary health care projects in the departments of Junin, in the Amazon region, and Huancavelica, in the Andean region, were transferred to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in August 2000. A primary care program for indigenous and mestizo people in the Amazon districts of Masisea and Iparia was handed over to the MOH in June 2001. MSF began work in Peru in 1985. International staff: 10 National staff: 59