Benin: Helping those with Buruli ulcer

In the town of Lalo, in Mono-Couffo department, MSF runs a treatment center to help those with this illness. The staff diagnose the disease, oversee surgery and help rehabilitate people disabled by it. MSF also teaches local health professionals about diagnostic and curative techniques, with particular emphasis on surgical training. At present, MSF supervises an average of 25 surgical interventions per week. Through operational research, MSF strives, with other partners, to improve care for people with this disease and raise awareness about it so that this care can be integrated into the national health system. Although official statistics place the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate at 4.1 percent in Benin, figures differ among regions and population groups. Surveillance of women seeking prenatal care in the town of Dogbo, Mono-Couffo department, revealed a prevalence rate of 7.4 percent. Because this region has no health facility that implements HIV/AIDS-related care, MSF has opened such a program there. The team started by providing voluntary testing, information, and medical consultations for opportunistic infections. By the end of 2003, MSF had signed an agreement to launch a treatment program using life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in this rural area. In the second half of 2004, in Dogbo, MSF will begin to treat patients with ARVs and start a program to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease. MSF's goal is for 300 of its patients to be taking ARVs by the end of 2004. MSF has worked in Benin since 1997. International Staff: 3 National Staff: 25