HEALTH AND WELFARE

Doctors Without Borders will be expanding its medical care in 2020

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said it will be expanding and improving its work across all its projects in 2020.

MSF teams provide medical and humanitarian assistance to people in over 70 countries, including responding to medical humanitarian issues such as the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), treating the war-wounded in Yemen, and offering care to sexual gender based violence (SGBV) survivors.

The improvements will be made in the fields of trauma care, maternal healthcare, outbreaks, new models for saving people critically ill with HIV, and paediatrics, the organisation said.

While MSF treats trauma patients, usually those who have been significantly injured in violence or road accidents, it is intent on saving more lives that are affected by trauma.

“There are many people, the most critically wounded, that we are not able to save, they die before they arrive at our gates. By training the people who transport the wounded to our health centres and hospitals on how to keep these people alive, we want to save more lives,” said Dr Lynette Dominguez.

And according to Dr Severine Caluwaerts, while medical assistance during childbirth was another way to save additional lives, family planning was also of vital importance.

“By avoiding unplanned pregnancies, we can avoid a lot of death and suffering, not only for women, but also for their children. MSF wants to expand our family planning services to more of our projects.”

Medical sociologist, Gabrielle Schittecatte said: “Time is of the essence to contain outbreaks of infectious diseases. MSF is very good at being very fast in responding to outbreaks, but sometimes we’re a bit too fast and we forget to listen to the people we are helping. Being better at engaging with the communities affected by epidemics will make our interventions more impactful.”

According to Dr Marc Biot, MSF developed new models of care in the 1990s that enabled the treatment of patients in low-resource settings and brought down the mortality of HIV. “But today, nearly a million people die every year of HIV-related diseases. We need to continue developing new models and we need to implement those in more places, to save more people’s lives,” he said.

Most of MSF’s patients are children with acute illnesses, but many also have chronic conditions that are overlooked, according to Dr Kemi Ogundipe.

“We want to pay more attention to these conditions like asthma, sickle cell disease and epilepsy, because we know it can prevent suffering and deaths.”

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