Bulgaria: Helping Romas get care


In May 2004, more than 7,000 patients (including 1,000 children under the age of five) had registered with these doctors. In order to encourage people to consult health services, MSF employs five community outreach workers. They promote the clinic, help register patients, and refer other social problems to the relevant institutions.

In August 2003, Bulgarian health authorities determined that only 40 to 60 percent of the children in Fakulteta had all of their required vaccinations. MSF started a "catch-up" campaign in collaboration with local authorities to vaccinate vulnerable children against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT), polio and measles between March and June 2004.

Improving sexual health care

MSF also runs the diagnostic, treatment and prevention center known as MaÃ?¯chin Dom (center for sexual health), located in a university hospital in Sofia. The center's staff members provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and work to help prevent HIV/AIDS.

The very poor - a group considered most vulnerable for STIs and HIV - receive medicines free of charge to ensure that they do not go without treatment. The center is also increasing its health education activities in schools.
MSF began making rounds with a mobile clinic in September 2003 to reach marginalized residents of Sofia who do not visit the center.

Every week the clinic visits four different locations within the metropolitan area. The team offers immediate treatment of acute STIs, information and education on safe-sex practices and STI prevention, and voluntary HIV testing and counseling. Most patients are commercial sex workers and intravenous drug users.

The center's STI program has been replicated in the city of Plovdiv. A clinic in Plovdiv University Hospital has been rehabilitated by MSF and Bulgarian medical and paramedical personnel now carry out activities related to treatment and prevention of STIs.

MSF has worked in Bulgaria since 1997.