Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in China since 1988, initially to provide emergency assistance to people affected by natural disasters. In the decade that followed, we responded to over 20 floods, earthquakes, snow-storms and typhoons around the country – bringing help to tens of millions of beneficiaries.
In 2008, MSF provided tents, relief items, medical care and psychological support to victims of the Sichuan earthquake. We remain alert and are prepared to provide assistance for future emergencies if necessary.
Medical care for vulnerable populations
In the mid '90s, China’s own capacity in disaster response, management, and emergency-preparedness as well as the availability and quality of relief supplies in China improved significantly. MSF thus shifted its focus to vulnerable communities. Between 1991 and 2002, MSF ran a Kashin-Beck research and treatment project in the Tibet Autonomous Region, helping to ease the pain of sufferers of this debilitating joint disease. In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the provinces of Qinghai and Yunnan, we trained village doctors, built hospitals, supported health structures and offered basic health care to people living in remote areas. In Shaanxi province, we provided social support and medical care to street children from 1997 to 2006.
Treating infectious diseases
Since the late '90s, MSF has been fighting infectious diseases in China. Awareness programmes for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were launched in the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan in 1999. In 2003, we helped control the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in the Hebei province, and started giving free comprehensive care and treatment to HIV-positive people in Xiangfan, Hubei province and Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in collaboration with Chinese health authorities. The projects in Hubei and Guangxi have been handed over to the local government in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
Water supply and sanitation assistance
Between 1995 and 2002, MSF carried out a number of water and sanitation projects to supply clean drinking water and raise hygiene awareness for tens of thousands of people. We constructed wells, installed water pumps and conducted hygiene education in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Yunnan province and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.