Cote d'Ivoire: Dramatic improvement in the country's largest prison

  • International staff: 5
  • National staff: 10 MSF concentrates its work in CÃ?´te D'Ivoire on a medical and hygiene program at the country's largest prison, the MACA (the Abidjan Detention and Correction Center). Located in the capital, the prison was built for 1,500 prisoners but holds 3,500. Since MSF arrived in 1997, sanitary conditions at the prison have improved greatly. The mortality rate is now one-tenth of what it was. Before, prisoners had to pay for drinkable water, and there were no showers, latrines or morgue. Now, water is free, the buildings have been disinfected, and the sanitary facilities have been renovated. Based on this work, the authorities have given MSF permission to train and supervise the prison's medical staff. MSF is renovating the 30-bed infirmary, which has about 100 consultations a day. Every prisoner now has an initial medical exam and has an administrative and medical file. Writing medical reports documenting mistreatment has resulted in a dramatic decrease in police brutality against the detainees. Because prison rations are only 500 calories a day, MSF provides food to isolated prisoners, those without families, and those coming from backgrounds of extreme poverty. The organization recently began working with women and young people in the prison. MSF's earliest work in the country was with Liberian refugees, located on the banks of the Cavally River, which marks the border between CÃ?´te D'Ivoire and Liberia. By 1999, only 60,000 of the 350,000 Liberian refugees remained, and MSF was able to turn these activities over to other organizations.