UN health team travels to western Côte d’Ivoire to review medical needs

Thousands without adequate health care in western Côte d’Ivoire

19 April 2011 – A team of United Nations health experts have visited western Côte d’Ivoire in an effort to identify what needs to be done to improve access to health services, which were severely disrupted by the post-election conflict.

The Moyen Cavally region was one of the worst affected areas with only 10 of 44 health centres now open and providing limited services, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported today, adding that all surgeons and gynaecologists fled, as well as most general practitioners and specialized nurses.

“Those who stayed have not received salaries for three months,” Tarik Jasarevic, WHO spokesperson, told reporters in Geneva. “In the districts of Touslepleu and Blolequin, all health facilities have been looted and destroyed,” he added.

The treatment of patients who require surgery has become difficult because two of four district hospitals remain closed and the other two have no sufficient capacity and lack ambulances, Mr. Jasarevic said.

“Patients were left to find their own means of transportation for travelling to the nearest functioning referral structure, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away,” he added.

He said that the WHO team had also visited the Catholic mission in the town of Duékoué, where more than 27,000 people who had fled from violence found refuge.

Hygiene and sanitation conditions have deteriorated in the overcrowded compound, putting the internally displaced persons at risk of disease outbreaks, he said.

Mr. Jasarevic said WHO and its partners have so far received only 28 per cent of the $6.5 million requested to address the health needs of those affected by the crisis inside Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries.

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