Health Situation Deteriorates In Cote d’Ivoire As Violence Continues

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Sunday highlighted its concerns about the health situation in Cote d’Ivoire, Reuters reports.

According to MSF, four million residents in the main city of Abidjan are being pushed “ever closer to a health disaster … Widespread cuts in water supply come as medicines are running out, while violent militias are dissuading many from venturing out into the streets to seek food already retailing at multiples of its peace-time price,” the news service writes.

“It is all potentially disastrous for a city of this size,” MSF Abidjan Field Coordinator Henry Gray said in an interview from an office in the city. “Chronic water shortages already contributed to an outbreak of cholera between December and February, and while Gray said there was no evidence so far of a second outbreak,” the situation remains worrisome for a city that once had readily available drinking water, Reuters reports. Gray called the risk of cholera “extremely worrying.” However, the overall health impact of the conflict is still unclear, Gray said. “We can’t get into the community to do the evaluations,” he said. “We really need to get in there to find out what is going on” (John, 4/11).

“Many hospitals and health facilities have simply ceased their activities and the few that are not closed don’t have enough doctors, medicines and other basic equipment,” according to a statement from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, AlertNet reports. “The risk of disease spreading is acute – so we’re now focusing on making sure children and their parents have access to proper shelter and sanitation,” said Guy Cave, Save the Children’s country director for Cote d’Ivoire.

According to the news service, the World Food Program has “sent 85 tonnes of food to Duekoue while the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has supplied soap, blankets, mats and cooking kits. The World Health Organization (WHO) provided medicines and malaria kits, while UNICEF has helped to provide water and sanitation. The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) sent 12 tonnes of medical equipment in Man in the west while Action contre la Faim said it would deliver 24 tonnes of emergency equipment to the same a town, which is near Duekoue” (Fominyen, 4/8).

“The intense battle for control of Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan has left residents cut off from outside help and fighting for survival as they run out of food and water,” AlertNet reports in a second article looking at how some are turning to social media to call for help. “As the humanitarian situation deteriorates, many people are turning to Twitter, Facebook and a telephone hotline set up by an Ivorian organisation to get help and information,” the news service writes (Fominyen, 4/8).

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