Zimbabwe: Expanding care for AIDS patients

HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in Zimbabwe, affecting an estimated 25 percent of the population, or two million people. In March 2004, MSF opened a clinic to treat people with opportunistic infections in Murambinda Hospital. This is the first stage of an HIV/AIDS project in Buhera district of Manicaland province, located 200 kilometers south of the capital city, Harare. In addition to improving treatment for opportunistic infections, MSF teams are providing training for local medical staff to support ongoing HIV/AIDS activities in the hospital, such as voluntary counseling and testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. As of June 2004, 900 patients were using the clinic. MSF staff plan to introduce treatment with life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) medicines in the next few months and hope to have 50 patients using ARV treatment by the end of 2004. In July 2004, Murambinda Hospital took over the therapeutic feeding activities that MSF had provided in Buhera district when low admissions eliminated the need for a fully operational feeding center. In addition, MSF teams assisted emergency-preparedness planning for the district, having held three cholera workshops in 2004 and planning additional trainings throughout the year. In April 2004, MSF began treating patients with ARVs in the city of Bulawayo. Currently 150 patients are now taking part in the program, and the MSF team hopes to have 700 patients receiving ARVs by the end of 2004. The team also supports the work of the National Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program and participates in AIDS research in Zimbabwe as a partner in the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention Project. In early 2004, MSF ended a successful nutritional program in Masvingo province. However, in March, initial activities to treat opportunistic infections at a new HIV/AIDS clinic in Masvingo, the capital of the province, were suspended after MSF was asked to leave the province by local health officials. At the time of going to press, MSF had still not received an explanation for this request. MSF is currently identifying other potential locations for HIV/AIDS activities. In January 2004, a nutrition project that MSF had supported in the Tsholotsho district of Matebeland North province was handed over to the ministry of health. MSF has worked in Zimbabwe since 2000. International Staff: 17 National Staff: 73