More than 128,000 South Sudanese people fleeing violence had crossed into Uganda by the end of October.
The majority of the refugees, some 81,000 of them, settled in northern Uganda’s Adjumani district. After being registered through Numanzi transit centre, they were dispersed to camps. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched an emergency programme to provide basic healthcare for refugees at the transit centre and in the four camps. Teams screened children for malnutrition, and set up outpatient and inpatient departments, maternity wards and an intensive therapeutic feeding centre. Water and sanitation activities were also undertaken to ensure minimum hygiene standards were being met. As the number of arrivals dropped and other agencies began to cover some of the needs, MSF shifted its focus to the two largest camps in the south, Ayilo 1 and Ayilo 2, and health screening and consultations at the transit centre. More than 124,000 consultations were carried out and over 4,000 patients were admitted to hospital.
A significant number of refugee children seen by MSF had respiratory infections, which can spread quickly in crowded environments. From July to September, MSF conducted three rounds of vaccination against pneumococcal disease and Haemophilus influenzae type B, the two main causes of respiratory infections in children. More than 2,700 children under two, living in the refugee camps or in the surrounding villages, were fully immunised against pneumococcus. This was the first vaccination campaign using the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine ever run in Uganda, and one of the first in a refugee setting.
Arua HIV/tuberculosis (TB) programme closes
The HIV/TB programme that MSF started in 2001, based at Arua regional referral hospital, was handed over to the Ministry of Health and SUSTAIN (Strengthening Uganda’s Systems for Treating AIDS Nationally), a Ugandan–American NGO, in July. The project included clinical care, the management of a laboratory for HIV, TB and drug-resistant TB testing and the provision of antiretrovirals. MSF also handed over the management centre for multidrug-resistant TB that it built and had been running.
MSF is continuing to work on improving access to viral load testing, including for infants, with the UNITAID-funded Treatment Success Project. An MSF team is also assessing specific medical needs related to HIV in particularly vulnerable groups, such as children, adolescents and mobile populations.
Marburg emergency preparedness
In October, one case of Marburg haemorrhagic fever was confirmed in Kampala, triggering a joint response by the Ministry of Health, MSF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MSF set up five transit centres and one Ebola treatment centre within Kampala hospitals and trained staff working at these sites and in other provinces. No further cases were reported.
No. staff in 2014: 568 | Expenditure: €6 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1986 | msf.org/uganda