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  • Armed conflict
  • Endemic/Epidemic disease
  • Healthcare exclusion

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Background: 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

In Uganda, the rate of HIV infection is on the rise again, after decreasing for many years. The country has also had to host large numbers of refugees arriving from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.

After several years of progress in the fight against HIV, and large increases in the number of people being tested and treated for the virus, the rate of new infections has risen since 2010.

Test kits and condoms are difficult to obtain in several areas of the country; meanwhile it is estimated that one-third of women and half of men with HIV are not aware of their status.

Specialised care, such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and the combined treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and severe malnutrition, is often unavailable.

HIV and TB treatment

In West Nile region, the prevalence of HIV among adults aged 15 to 49 is about five per cent and has almost doubled since 2005. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been working in the region to help improve access to care and reduce HIV-related mortality.

For several years, MSF teams have treated people with HIV and TB through a programme based at the Arua regional referral hospital. Care is provided to people living in the district as well as to a significant number of patients from neighbouring DRC.

Activities include PMTCT and ensuring people infected with both HIV and TB receive the necessary integrated care.

After a 12-year presence in Arua, MSF has started to hand over medical activities to local authorities and their partner SUSTAIN, and will close the project in July 2014.

This follows both an increase in the local ability to provide medical care for people with HIV and TB and a reorientation of MSF’s work in the country.

Emergency care for refugees

The conflict in North Kivu province, DRC, caused between 40,000 and 50,000 refugees to cross into western Uganda between May and the end of July.

An estimated 22,000 people reached the Bubukwanga transit camp, near Bundibugyo. Originally designed for 12,500 people, the camp lacked sufficient shelters, latrines and drinking water for the increased numbers.

MSF began providing medical care in July. Patients were suffering mainly from respiratory infections, malaria and diarrhoea. Teams also built latrines and trucked in water.

Some refugees have since been transferred by the Ugandan authorities to the Kyangwali camp to ease pressure on resources. MSF provided healthcare to the 33,000 people in Kyangwali camp from September to the end of November.

A total of 25,000 consultations were conducted and 1,500 people were admitted to hospital.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 358 staff in Uganda. MSF has been working in the country since 1986.

Patient story

Fifi, 27-years-old

“I came from Bunia in DRC, 200 miles from here. I come here to get ARV drugs but transport is too expensive, so I’ve stayed with my sister in Arua for the past six months.

Every two months I come here to collect my free treatment from MSF. My six-year-old daughter tested HIV positive first – that’s how I found out I was sick too. She stays with me; we are both under treatment. In the community, there are people that accept us and others that stigmatise. In Bunia there is no free treatment and I cannot work at the moment.”

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