Ivory Coast: MSF increases its medical assistance to meet growing needs

February 28, 2011

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Ivory Coast: MSF increases its medical assistance to meet growing needs © Katrin Kisswani/MSF

Following the recent escalation of violence related to the political crisis in Ivory Coast, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is reinforcing its medical assistance in several locations. The organisation also continues making donations to medical structures partly because the freezing of Ivorian banking assets has lead to a shortage of cash, which is necessary to buy medicines. As Mego Terzian, MSF Emergency Desk Manager, says: “the supply system for medicines is seriously impeded by the paralysis of the banking system. Medical structures risk running short of medical supplies in the coming weeks.”

Following post-electoral tension and violence, MSF has been present in Ivory Coast since the end of December. In the western part of the country, the organisation is providing assistance to displaced people. In a six-week period, MSF carried out 4,115 healthcare consultations in a makeshift camp in Dukoué, where more than 12,000 internally displaced Ivorians have gathered. MSF teams have carried out 789 consultations in the commune of Kokoma, Dukoué district, since February 5. MSF also organises the transfer of patients to Dukoué hospital, where an MSF surgical team has treated 67 patients. An MSF logistical team has renovated the hospital’s operating theatre.

In the northeast of Dukoué, MSF has been running mobile clinics since February 23 in places from which local medical staff have fled because of the violence. MSF is planning to open a health centre and an inpatient unit in the city of Guiglo.

Two international medical staff will reinforce the team currently on the ground to assess the needs in the city hospitals of Danané, Bangolo and Man, in western Ivory Coast and on the region of Ben Houen and Zouan Gnen. MSF will evaluate the needs in terms of medical supplies and staff, and specific medical care for wounded people. “At the end of last year, we already donated medical supplies to Danané hospital to treat wounded people”, explains Marie-Christine Férir, MSF Emergency Desk Manager. “Yesterday, this hospital received 10 wounded. Three of them died from their injuries.”

In the city of Abidjan, where clashes are taking place in different neighbourhoods, MSF is making donations of medical supplies to treat wounded patients in private and public hospitals in the districts of Abobo and Treichville. A surgical team is currently evaluating medical needs. Another team is assessing the situation in the capital, Yamoussoukro.

Tens of thousands of Ivorians have sought refuge from post-election violence on the other side of the border, in the county of Nimba, Liberia. In the past few days, thousands of new refuges have crossed the border, fleeing when they heard shooting. Since January, MSF has been running mobile clinics in several localities of the county, and it is now planning to reinforce its capacity to provide medical assistance in the region. A medical team is also present in the UN refugee camp of Bahn. The team screens the medical status of the refugees registering, vaccinates children under 15 against measles, and provides medicines and technical support to the Bahn health centre.

MSF opened its first project in Ivory Coast in 1991. Until 2007, MSF teams were working in MACA prison in Abidjan, in the hospital of Bouaké city, as well as in the western regions in the hospitals of Danané, Man, Bangolo, Zouan Hounien. The teams conducted primary and secondary healthcare activities as well paediatric and obstetric care; during the crisis period MSF also provided surgical treatment to wounded people, ran a nutrition project and an integrated HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis treatment programme. MSF withdrew in September 2007, when the situation in the country had stabilized.

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