Home to roughly 17 million people, the West African country of Mali is the ancient heartland of an African empire.

MSF in Mali 2014

173,500 outpatient consultations
75,700 patients treated for malaria
15,000 routine vaccinations
£6.7m expenditure
883 MSF staff

The capital, Bamako, is said to be one of the fastest growing cities in Africa and the country is renowned worldwide for producing stars of African music, most notably Salif Keita and Ali Farka Touré.

Mali was regarded as a model of African democracy until the military seized power in March 2012 and the north fell under al-Qaeda control.

The chaos that ensued after the coup led hundreds of thousands of northern Malians to flee their homes – creating food shortages in the south.

Mali has since returned to democracy, but the effects of 2012’s instability are still being felt.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in Mali in 1992 and is currently helping to fill healthcare gaps, by treating conditions such as malaria, malnutrition and chronic diseases.

We also dispatched two emergency teams to Mali to respond to cases of Ebola in 2014.

Staff story

Seïdina Ousseini has been MSF field coordinator in Ansongo, in the north of Mali, from March 2014 to March 2015

Seïdina Ousseini, MSF field coordinator in Ansongo, north Mali.

“It isn’t easy to work in this context, mainly because of the political crisis in the area. The activity of the armed groups makes security very volatile.

“The difficulties have been increasing and a large part of the Malian population has very limited access to medical care.

"Today, humanitarian aid is more necessary than ever in northern Mali.

“For example, in May 2014, after the towns of Kidal and Menaca were captured by pro-Azawad armed groups, we saw how the population experienced moments of real panic which caused a lot of administration staff to flee to the town of Gao and even some hospital patients abandoned their beds in the hospital and fled to the town to seek refuge.”

MSF’s work in Mali: 2014

Access to basic healthcare was severely restricted in parts of northern Mali in 2014, as the security situation deteriorated.

Jihadist attacks continued against military targets and peace talks did not lead to an agreement.

Northern Mali

MSF programmes in northern Mali aimed to fill critical gaps between needs and available medical services.

In Gao:

  • MSF screened for child malnutrition and seasonal malaria chemoprevention. More than 40,000 children received antimalarials.

In Timbuktu:

  • There were an average of 700 inpatient admissions and 150 assisted deliveries every month in Timbuktu regional hospital.
  • Our teams also provided consultations for patients with chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.

Southern Mali

In the relatively peaceful south of the country, MSF teams:

  • Focused on children’s health, treating 37,400 children for malaria and malnutrition.
  • Trained local paramedics and medical students.
  • Launched a pilot preventive paediatric care project, including vaccinations and bed net distributions.

Ebola response

Following confirmed cases of Ebola in October, two emergency teams were dispatched to Kayes and Bamako to set up and run Ebola management centres.

MSF reinforced the health ministry’s capacity to detect and respond to alerts, trained rapid response teams and treated patients in the EMCs to prevent further infections.

A map of MSF's activities in Mali, 2014.

Find out more in our 2014 International Activity Report.

At the end of 2014, MSF had 883 staff in Mali. MSF first began working in the country in1992.


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