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South Africa

Why are we there?

  • Endemic/Epidemic disease
  • Healthcare exclusion

Our Work


  • South Africa runs the world’s largest programme of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV.
  • Despite a tremendous increase in testing and treatment and improved prognosis for people with HIV, there are still many new infections and HIV-related deaths each year. Rates of co-infection with tuberculosis (TB) are also high.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières continues to pilot new strategies to scale up testing and access to treatment for HIV and TB.


Khayelitsha, Cape Town

  • Each month some 1,000 people learn that they are HIV positive in Khayelitsha township, on the outskirts of Cape Town, where rates of HIV and TB co-infection have reached 70 per cent.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières provides testing and treatment for HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, which requires a longer, more intensive, toxic and less effective drug regimen. 
  • The programme also addresses the needs of children and adolescents. A pilot project providing diagnosis and treatment for newborns began in 2014.
  • A Médecins Sans Frontières-initiated pilot project at community ‘wellness hubs’, offering family planning and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, significantly improved access to HIV screening for young women. More than 15,000 patients attended two wellness hubs before the facilities were handed over to the Western Cape Department of Health.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières also supported two human papillomavirus vaccination campaigns in Khayelitsha, vaccinating more than 3,800 girls.



  • Médecins Sans Frontières continued an HIV–TB programme covering Mbongolwane Health Service Area and Eshowe municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • The programme also focuses on prevention activities such as promoting safe sex. A million condoms were distributed and more than 3,000 men underwent voluntary circumcision, which is shown to decrease the risk of HIV transmission.


Stop Stock Outs project

  • Drug stock outs cause a major bottleneck in South Africa’s HIV–TB programming and threaten the health of patients.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières and several partners launched the Stop Stock Outs project in 2013, asking patients and healthcare workers to become ‘sentinel surveyors’: to anonymously gather reports on stock levels in the facilities they attend or work at, map reported cases and track specific issues.
  • The overall goal is to understand the causes of shortages and stock outs and draw attention to a struggling health system. 


For the latest news on where we work visit:

Médecins Sans Frontières has been working in the country since 1999 and at the end of 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières had 198 staff in South Africa. 

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