Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened an emergency programme in east Cameroon in response to an influx of refugees from Central African Republic (CAR).
Intercommunal conflict in CAR caused hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in Cameroon and other countries in 2014. Some 9,000 arrived in Cameroon during a 10-day period in February alone, and by the end of the year, an estimated 135,000 were in the country.
In January, MSF began to support the Ministry of Public Health by providing medical, nutritional and psychological support to refugees at sites in Garoua-Boulaï, Gado-Badzéré, Gbiti and Batouri. The majority of patients were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and respiratory infections. Medical care, primarily maternity services and healthcare for children up to the age of 15, was also offered to host communities and MSF helped with vaccination campaigns.
In Garoua-Boulaï, a small border city where many refugees crossed into Cameroon, MSF teams conducted medical consultations, distributed relief items and worked on sanitation and water supply at the Pont Bascule transit site. The water and sanitation activities were handed over to the NGO Solidarité Internationale in October. Another team continued to work at the district hospital and provided about 1,000 outpatient consultations per week last year. At the Protestant hospital, MSF supported a therapeutic feeding centre and in 2014 increased the bed capacity to 100 to accommodate more children with severe malnutrition.
From February to October, MSF ran a health centre at Gado-Badzéré camp, about 25 kilometres from Garoua-Boulaï. There was an outpatient feeding centre and a space designated for individual and group psychosocial counselling sessions. MSF also carried out water and sanitation activities in the camp, undertook epidemiological surveillance and implemented an early response to a cholera outbreak.
In March, MSF began working in Gbiti, another border town where more than 20,000 refugees have been registered. MSF conducted more than 1,000 medical consultations per week, supplied water, and built latrines and showers at a makeshift camp. Two mobile teams provided medical care to small pockets of refugees in the area. Patients requiring more intensive care were referred by MSF to hospitals in Batouri or Bertoua. MSF also supported Batouri district hospital in the management of patients with severe, complicated malnutrition, and increased capacity to 150 beds.
Buruli ulcer project ends after 12 years
In June, MSF handed over the Buruli ulcer pavilion in Akonolinga to the Ministry of Health. This project had opened in response to the high number of people in the area affected by Buruli, a chronic and destructive infection that affects people’s skin and tissue. Laboratory diagnosis, antibiotics, wound dressing, surgery and physiotherapy were provided. Some 1,400 patients have been treated since the project began in 2002, and around 43,000 people have benefited from awareness activities. The University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, will continue training Cameroonian medical students in chronic wound treatment and care, including for Buruli ulcer.
No. staff in 2014: 277 | Expenditure: €8.7 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1984 | msf.org/cameroon