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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid