I think I’m the most infrequent blogger on the MSF web site. Sorry-O, as they say in Nigeria. My excuse is that, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve done 5 radio, 4 TV and 3 newspaper interviews, taken on a 2nd job (as interim Project Coordinator for our HIV/AIDS clinic), and participated in 1 public hearing on legislation to criminalise discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. And I’m pretty sure there were some drummers drumming in there at some point too.
Yesterday I met Femi Kuti, the son of Fela Kuti, and a famous musician in his own right. He has a music club, The New Africa Shrine, that is regularly used by MSF and Nigeria’s Treatment Action Movement to do public outreach/education about HIV/AIDS, safe sex practices, the importance of knowing your HIV status, empowerment of young people to take responsibility for their own health, and the need to seek and demand appropriate medical treatment from the Nigerian government. The club audience is the most at risk demographic group in Nigeria, and the one with the highest HIV prevalence rate – young people between 15 and 30, so it’s a great venue to reach them with accurate information/messages and to distribute condoms. Lots of people show up very early, long before the concerts start, they’re in a good mood and disposed to listen because Femi Kuti is very outspoken about the realities of HIV/AIDS, in a country where there are still a lot of people who think it’s all one big fiction. So, it’s a great partnership. This type of more public health oriented work is a really important adjunct to the direct medical care that MSF provides and with which most people around the world are more familiar.
The rainy season has started with a vengeance. Lots more mosquitos around, and an increasing number of positive malaria paracheck results amongst our staff and patients, so we’ll have to stay on top of that as the rainy season intensifies…