As you know, a military coup took place in March 2012, and there is ongoing civil unrest in Bamako. The US embassy remains open, but Peace Corps volunteers have been withdrawn. Accordingly, we have reduced our own presence in Bamako to the minimum; however, we remain committed to continuing support of access to HIV care at the village level, which – in this time of unrest – remains a significant, if not more critical need.
We compiled the results of our work over the past four months in order to measure the impact of the political crisis on our activities at the Hope Center Clinic. Our monthly reports show that in spite of the difficult circumstances:
1) 150 pregnant women on average are still getting tested monthly. Enrollment in the PMTCT program has been steady over the past four months.
2) 30 families are still receiving nutritional support every week. Enrollment has been steady over the past four months.
3) 40 babies are currently being followed.
4) 55 patients on average are coming for voluntary HIV testing every month. Enrollment has skyrocketed in the past four months, increasing from 47 in January 2012 to 83 in April 2012. This increase in voluntary testing shows that our reputable management techniques and efforts to provide free high quality HIV care are reliable.
Our onsite director, Dr. Tounkara Karamoko, also said that significantly more HIV tests have been requested recently by people living in surrounding communities due to the closures of medical infrastructure and clinics in the past weeks.
Despite ongoing unrest in Mali, we remain committed to supporting humanitarian aid and preserving the program that has been one of the most successful interventions in Mali, over the last 10 years. We believe that it is critically important, at this juncture, to sustain hope. We must encourage our Malian colleagues to continue to fight against AIDS, and buttress their optimism that peace and prosperity will be restored.