Medicines San Frontiers phases out 25-year HIV/Aids control project in Chiradzulu

* When the project was rolled out in 1996, the district had the highest number of patients dying from HIV related diseases

* And the trend has been reduced tremendously — thereby achieving their intended objectives

By Clarabella Chipolonga, MANA

Medicines San Frontiers (MSF) on Wednesday announced the phasing out of the organisation’s HIV and Aids project in Chiradzulu after working in the district for 25 years.


MSF made the announcement during a district executive committee (DEC) meeting where it commended the Council for the overwhelming support during their project.

MSF’s medical focal point for Chiradzulu HIV Project, Dr.Ishaq Saad said when the project was rolled out in 1996, the district had the highest number of patients dying from HIV related diseases and the trend has been reduced tremendously — thereby achieving their intended objectives.

“With the United Nations programme on HIV and Aids goal of having at least 90% of HIV infected patients diagnosed and should be under care  — including anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs which will make the 90% viral load suppressed — we have managed to get to 90% target. This means we have achieved that goal.”

The final interaction

Saad highlighted that some of MSF’s achievements for the past 25 years of work under the project include viral load suppression, capacity building among medical personnel on managing advanced HIV diseases and maintenance of medical equipment in the laboratory.

He said the project also introduced point of care points which helped to bring the testing centres closer to the patients at Chiradzulu District Hospital as well as Namitambo and Milepa health centres.

Chiradzulu Council’s director of planning & development, Henderson Kaumi commended MSF for its support towards the health sector in the district especially in hard-to-reach areas where the Council could not manage to provide services consistently.


He said the organisation’s work done for the past 25 years is visible and clear for everyone to see, adding: “I wish you all the best wherever you are going. I appreciate the provision of effective treatment and testing for HIV and AIDS which was a challenge in the district.”

MSF is an international independent humanitarian organisation which is present in over 70 countries across the world. It intervenes in epidemics, pandemics and disaster cases.

Soon after Cyclone Freddy hit the Southern Region with heavy rains and strong winds which caused flash floods that destroyed homes and killed hundreds of people as well as damage to infrastructure such as roads, buildings and electricity lines, MSF Malawi issued out an international alert and its response to the tragedy.

Taking not that “the situation is very dire” and that there were many casualties, either wounded, missing or dead, and the numbers were to increase in the coming days, MSF emergency project coordinator in Blantyre Guilherme Botelho, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency project coordinator in Blantyre put together a team of nurses and clinical officers to provide medical and logistic support.

The target was Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital which was being overwhelmed with the influx of casualties coming from different areas and MSF also donated medical supplies and food needs.

MSF head of mission in Malawi also redirected some staff from their regular project for cervical cancer to assist the emergency team at Queens while also suspending outreach activities to protect the staff from any risks linked to flash floods.

There was also a threat of a resurgence of cholera that raised serious concern as Malawi suffered the biggest outbreak the country has seen in its history after Cyclone Ana hit last year.—Additional reporting by Maravi Express

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