THE Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hosted a half-day regional scientific day in Harare, Zimbabwe where various scientific innovations and researches from MSF’s field programs around the world were presented.
By Michael Gwarisa
The event was a hybrid setup where delegates attended both virtually and physically in Harare. Giving his Keynote address, Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Group Captain, Dr. Munyaradzi Dobbie, Chief Director Public Health applauded MSF’s interventions in Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector.
As government, we are appreciative of MSF’s continued support to Zimbabwe and their support to the ministry of health and child care during all the waves of COVID-19. They supported some of our hotspots at Parirenyatwa, Wilkins and others and they also trained staff to manage COVID as well as donating Protective Personnel Equipment (PPE),” said Dr Dobbie.
MSF has been working in Zimbabwe in collaboration with the ministry of health since the year 2000 and has helped the ministry with various medical interventions such as managing the Cholera outbreak of 2008, the COVID-19 pandemic, HIV and AIDS, vaccination and immunization programs, among other interventions.
“MSF in collaboration with the Ministry of health has conducted operational research that has led to the improvement of patient care and management. To mention but a few, we have carried out Viral Load Testing on Gene Expert Machines, near point of care for clinical monitoring and response of Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) for people living with HIV.”
Some of the interventions include Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) swabbing and testing also using the Gene Expert machine to aid early diagnosis and treatment for cervical cancer and women and CD4 testing.
Zimbabwe hosted the regional scientific day for the second time after it successfully hosted the same conference in 2015.
Giving her Welcome Remarks, MSF Country Representative, Mrs. Abi Kebra Belaye said, “Every year, MSF holds similar conferences around the world to present and discuss diverse researches from our field programs internationally. We have set aside this time to reflect on medical innovations that have been implemented and discuss on how best they can be adopted.
“We also take this opportunity to give the public a glimpse into our medical work. MSF has been working in Zimbabwe since 2000. We came to Zimbabwe in response to HIV/AIDS which was a medical emergency at that time,” said Mrs Belaye.
MSF’s interventions around HIV and AIDS have been focusing on treatment and care for people living with HIV in Zimbabwe as well as Cervical Cancer Screening and treatment, Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Migration, Adolescent Sexual Reproductive health (ASRH), Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), environmental health and emergencies among others.
One of the innovations that was presented at the Scientific Day is the sanitary seal in protecting boreholes from contamination. The seal initiative has been launched in Mbare, a high density. The project is set to address water challenges in urban settings in the near future following indications that Zimbabwe is projected to suffer water stress by 2025.
According to MSF, water availability is decreasing in the capital Harare, particularly in high density settlements where people rely mainly on boreholes. Anthropogenic pollution and poorly constructed boreholes lead to high levels of bacteriological contamination of borehole water sources, posing an increased risk of diarrheal disease for beneficiaries.
To mitigate the risk of recurrent diarrheal out- breaks, Médecins Sans Frontières piloted the incorporation of borehole sanitary seal in accordance with the local geology while drilling new boreholes in Harare.