Ivory Coast: Giving care amid violence

Frida Lagerholm

War wounds were most prevalent in the early days of the conflict, but now most MSF patients suffer from severe malnutrition and infectious diseases, especially malaria.

The violence caused hundreds of thousands of workers to abandon their farms, and hunger is a persistent problem. The conflict has severely damaged the country's health care system, which lacks personnel and medical equipment, leaving many civilians without basic care. At the same time, there has been a resurgence of epidemics and diseases in overcrowded
cities and towns.

Working on both sides of the frontlines, volunteers and NATIONAL STAFF: provided urgently needed medical care and personnel for health facilities. Throughout the past year, MSF restored medical facilities that had been plundered and whose personnel had fled. Teams were based in the western towns of Man, Kouibly, Bangolo, Bin-Houyé and Danané, as well as in the city of Bouaké in central Côte d'Ivoire and in the city of Korhogo in the north of the country.

At hospitals in Bouaké, Man and Danané, MSF staff members provide essential medical care including pediatrics, emergency medicine, gynecology/obstetrics and surgery for area residents. Since April 2003, MSF has run mobile clinics in villages along the northwestern border with Liberia. Projects were also begun in the western towns of Guiglo and Toulépleu to decrease malnutrition and assist people displaced by violence.

MSF teams have continued to carry out thousands of medical consultations each month. In 2004, MSF handed its project in Toulépeu over to the government.

War wounds were most prevalent in the early days of the conflict, but now most MSF patients suffer from severe malnutrition and infectious diseases, especially malaria. MSF opened a therapeutic feeding center in Man Hospital in May 2003, and admitted more than 350 children during the July 2003 peak. During the past year, MSF staff vaccinated children and provided care during outbreaks of measles, yellow fever and meningitis.

Treating inmates with TB
MSF continues to provide medical care to the more than 5,000 inmates crammed into the Maison d'Arrêt et de Correction d'Abidjan (MACA) prison in the capital city, Abidjan.

In a facility designed for merely 1,500 inmates, the prison's horrendous
living conditions give rise to frequent
cholera epidemics and high levels of tuberculosis (TB). MSF has been conducting nearly 2,000 medical consultations there each month.

During 2004, MSF extended its activities in the prison's TB ward in collaboration with the country's national TB program and also began treating people with multidrug-resistant strains of the
disease. More than 200 detainees benefit from a supplemental nutrition program established by MSF in 2003.

MSF has worked in Côte d'Ivoire since 1990.

INTERNATIONAL STAFF: 68
NATIONAL STAFF: 851