Uganda: Fighting neglected diseases

International staff: 31

National staff: 265

MSF has been engaged in a long-term effort to combat Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Uganda. In 13 years of work in the district of Moyo and seven in Ajumani, both in the West Nile region, MSF has treated 16,000 patients for the disease.

MSF supervises activities, carries out epidemiological surveys and supplies medicines in both areas. A similar project has been underway in the district of Arua since 1995. From bases in northern Uganda, MSF has also sent mobile teams door-to-door to treat sleeping sickness in southern Sudan, in Maridi county, but this work has been suspended because of insecurity in the area.

At the Amudat Health Center in Pokot county, near the Kenyan border, MSF provides care for the largely nomadic Pokot population. The area has a high rate of kala azar, a parasitic disease affecting the immune system. MSF considers both kala azar and sleeping sickness to be neglected diseases, and is working through the Access to Essential Medicines Campaign to increase accessibility to treatment.

MSF also supports several Ugandan NGOs which fight AIDS, and expects to put an increasing emphasis on fighting this disease in its work with the Pokot people. A key goal of a pilot mother and child health care project recently launched in Arua is to reduce the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate.

The unstable Bundibugyo region, in western Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to over 100,000 displaced people. In Bundi Hospital and in Nyauka camp, MSF worked in a pediatric clinic, responded to cholera epidemics, carried out vaccinations, distributed basic hygiene material and provided drinkable water.

In late 1999, a new focus was placed on fighting malaria. Unfortunately, high insecurity in the region prompted the evacuation of MSF teams on several occasions, but in April 2000 the organization was able to return on a permanent basis.

In April and May 2000, MSF responded to the needs of displaced people fleeing inter-ethnic fighting in eastern Uganda. For about 7,000 displaced people in the district of Katakwi, MSF distributed cooking materials, water containers and tools for constructing latrines, and carried out measles vaccinations.

MSF has been working in Uganda since 1983.