Thailand: Cooperating with local groups to fight AIDS

  • International staff: 19
  • National staff: 10 The HIV epidemic in Thailand is entering a new phase, as many of the people infected during its explosive start now fall ill. The increasing numbers of sick and needy people, coupled with poverty brought on by the country's economic crisis, mean further hardship and suffering for those living with AIDS in Thailand. Working with the community to fight AIDS In an attempt to alleviate some of this suffering, MSF has joined with local groups to fight for improved standards of treatment and care for people with HIV and AIDS. Collaboration with Thai organizations is very important. MSF works closely with a local NGO in community hospitals in Kantchanaburi and Petchburi provinces. In Bangkok, the capital, MSF is working with local organizations on a multifaceted project called Bangkok Plus, aimed at improving health and psycho-social care for low-income families affected by HIV/AIDS. Also in Bangkok, a team of MSF nurses supports four AIDS hospices and visits AIDS patients in their homes in urban slum areas. Nearly 200 patients received home care in through this project in 1999. Home-based care is central to work in the eastern province of Surin as well, where MSF is also working to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease. In Surin, in the central provinces and in Bangkok, MSF continues to train health care staff in community hospitals and health posts. As part of its international Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, MSF is working closely at the local and international level to make antiretroviral therapy (treatment with a combination of drugs) more widely available to Thailand's AIDS sufferers (see page 14). Care for Karen and Mons refugees On the Burmese border, MSF gives medical assistance to Karen refugees in camps near the town of Mae Sot, and in Ratchaburi, further south. MSF also gives medical aid to the Mons refugee community in Sangklaburi. The refugees live in a precarious situation: Guerrilla activity in the border region is common, and much of the frontier is mined. At the same time, in an effort to control migration, the Thai government has restricted the refugees' movement, limiting their ability to be self-sufficient. MSF provides medical care, trains health workers and monitors epidemics of cholera and malaria, endemic in the region. In Mae Sot, MSF also treats tuberculosis among migrant workers. MSF has been working in Thailand since 1983.