News / Africa

Ivory Coast’s Health System Collapses, MSF Steps in

A man points to a burnt shop near Williamsville after a clash between Ivorian security forces and pro-Outtara fighters in Abidjan, March 15, 2011
A man points to a burnt shop near Williamsville after a clash between Ivorian security forces and pro-Outtara fighters in Abidjan, March 15, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders says “intense armed conflict and political gridlock” are taking a toll on Ivory Coast’s civilian population. The group, also known as MSF, is trying to fill the gaps left by a barely functioning health care system.

Renzo Fricke, MSF emergency coordinator, says, “Our teams are really trying to be where things are moving, things are going on. For the time being, we are operational in two main areas, which are in Abidjan and in the western part of the country.”

Injuries and disease

“In Abidjan, mostly what we see are civilians wounded due to violence or because of demonstrations or because of fighting,” he says. “These are the wounded we see arriving in bad condition in general.  In other structures where we run primary healthcare… it’s basically to replace the health system that is completely non-existent for the time being.  And in these places what we see, I would say, are regular diseases like diarrhea, children having malaria, respiratory infections and things like that.”

It’s estimated between 300,000 and 400,000 people have been displaced by the Ivoirian political crisis and violence.  Many have sought shelter in the bush, far from standard medical clinics.

Much of the fighting in Abidjan has centered in the Abobo district, where reports say there is only one hospital that’s still functioning.  Doctors Without Borders has staff there.

Fricke says, “We are working and trying to open more structures in Abidjan because we really think we can have an added value in this environment.  In this hospital in Abobo, we have seen so far around 10 or 15 people per day wounded…. In two weeks, these two last weeks, we had 130 wounded arriving…that we could treat.”

He points out that the medical aid group is neutral in the crisis, allowing it to operate among opposing sides.  “We are respected by the population for that,” he said.

It’s believed there are many people in Abidjan who need medical care but who are unable to get to a clinic or hospital.

“Access is very difficult.  And of course it’s very difficult to get reliable data on people who don’t access a health structure. But in any conflict setting and so on, we always know that only a part of the wounded or people in need of care actually reach a medical facility,” he says.

Going mobile

MSF is now running mobile clinics to bring medical care to where it’s needed, rather than waiting for patients to arrive at hospitals.

“We are running these mobile clinics in western Ivory Coast, also in Liberia, where there are tens of thousands of refugees, Ivoirian refugees,” says Fricke. "In Abidjan, we are more focused on directly supporting hospitals.”

MSF says, “The commercial and financial sanctions imposed by the international community against Ivory Coast, coupled with transportation problems, have led to shortages in medicines and medical supplies.”

The group says it has enough medicines for its operations, but the government is in short supply.  MSF emphasizes that while it’s a large organization, it cannot replace the formal state health system in Ivory Coast.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid