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March 20, 2017

Nicholas Gildersleeve is a Canadian from Frelighsburg, Quebec, who until recently served as Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s head of mission in Bolivia — a country with the world’s highest incidence of Chagas, which is endemic in 60 per cent of its territory. The disease, which is found almost exclusively in Latin America and is transmitted by triatomine insects (also known as “kissing bugs”), is mostly asymptomatic for the first years of infection, but will often eventually result in debilitating complications that can shorten life expectancy by an average of 10 years. Heart complications are the most common cause of death in infected adults.

April 14, 2015

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is launching a new project to ensure that people can be diagnosed and treated for Chagas disease in the town of Monteagudo, in the Chuquisaca department of southern Bolivia. In partnership with local healthcare institutions, the organization will develop a comprehensive care model for primary and secondary care that will be integrated into the existing healthcare system.

Following a directive from the government of Sri Lanka earlier this week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) withdrew its staff today from Kilinochchi town in the LTTE-controlled Vanni. MSF is very concerned about the possible consequences of ongoing hostilities for the population still living in the area, and the impact of displacement on the health of the population. MSF urges both parties to the conflict to ensure that all possible measures are taken to protect civilians from the impact of the conflict, and to allow assistance to resume as soon as possible.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is very concerned for the safety of an estimated 250,000 people trapped in heavy fighting in the Vanni district of Sri Lanka. Hundreds of civilians are reported to have been wounded and killed during the last days as the area controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has shrunk in the face of the government of Sri Lanka’s military offensive. MSF has received reports from the Vanni area that the plight of the civilians is dire. Hospitals are coping to the best of their ability, but are running low on drugs and medical staff.

On Jan. 29, 226 sick and wounded civilians, 51 of them children, were evacuated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN from the Vanni district of Sri Lanka. Delays at the government checkpoint in Omanthai meant that patients were arriving throughout the evening and night and into the very early morning in Vavuniya Hospital. Some were newly wounded during the recent fighting, while others were suffering from festering wounds up to two or three weeks old.  In the fighting many patients lost limbs due to shrapnel and shells.

Wounded, shocked and distressed. After having fled heavy fighting in the Vanni area of Sri Lanka, people arriving in Vavuniya hospital need both medical care and counselling. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), mental health worker Karen Stewart hears their stories and shares them here. People arrive here in a state of extreme anxiety and fear. They have been separated from their families and often have no news about their fate. Young children and the elderly travelling with their caretakers claim they were separated at a checkpoint.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is urgently calling on both parties in the conflict in the Vanni area in northern Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of civilians and to allow access to humanitarian assistance. In neighbouring Vavuniya, located outside the conflict zone, MSF medical teams are working with hospital staff around the clock. Ninety percent of the injuries seen are a direct result of the fighting. People are being brought to hospitals with gun-shot and shrapnel wounds.

During the first two weeks of March relatively few people seem to have been able to flee from the Vanni area in Sri Lanka.

With heavy rains pouring down in the last days, the situation in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region has deteriorated further. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is concerned that watery diarrhea and respiratory infections will pose serious threats to the more than 150,000 civilians still estimated to be trapped in the area. People have been lacking drinking water, medicines and a sanitation system for weeks.

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