Mauritania: Treating and preventing cholera

While carrying out a nutritional assessment in late July 2005, MSF medical staff came upon a growing cholera epidemic just south of the capital. The team immediately began to treat patients and constructed shelters, hygienic barriers, taps and a drainage system. By the end of August, MSF had received more than 1,000 patients.

Though not all were suffering from the disease, the vast majority were and needed immediate care. The outbreak of the highly contagious disease centered on the capital's El Mina slum. MSF worked with other organizations to bring the epidemic under control and raise awareness about the disease among the local population.

MSF has ended or turned over to local organizations several other projects it had conducted in the country. In 1999, MSF opened a primary health clinic in Bouhdida, a slum area of Nouakchott, to enable residents to have access to quality health care.

In the last year, approximately 4,500 consultations were carried out, many for patients with diarrhea or respiratory infections. More than 1,800 antenatal consultations were conducted with 226 deliveries performed in 2004. In 2002, MSF transferred all of the program's medical responsibilities to the national staff while continuing to provide technical support and supervision. In July 2004, a national organization assumed responsibility for the project's remaining components.

In June 2004, MSF closed its supplementary feeding center that helped malnourished children in Nouakchott's poverty-stricken neighborhood of Saada, as fewer children required care.

In September 2004, MSF ended its project to improve pregnant women's access to reproductive and prenatal care in Sélibaby, the chief city of the southern Guidimakha region. The program was able to successfully reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates. However, plans to introduce a second phase of the project were stopped due to a lack of commitment on the part of local and national health officials and a lack of available staff.

A nutritional project located in the same region was also handed over to the ministry of health in 2004 after meeting its objectives.

MSF has worked in Mauritania since 1994.