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MSF in Ivory Coast, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 1,100
Reason for Intervention:
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In March 2007, a peace agreement was signed by former rebels in the north and the government-controlled south of the Ivory Coast, leading to significant improvements in a country divided by civil war. A national union government has been formed and many civil servants, including health staff, have returned to their places of work in the north. Access to healthcare has improved in many areas.
Violence and banditry, however, continue to characterize the western part of the country. In April 2007, the withdrawal of UN and French soldiers from the neutral buffer zone left a power vacuum in which civilians soon became targets. Bangolo, a town close to the Liberian border, lies in the heart of the affected region. From April 16 onwards, an MSF team on the ground, treating patients from a series of mobile clinics and health centers, reported almost daily attacks on civilians in the area. Assaults on vehicles, robberies, assassinations and rapes significantly increased. As well as providing medical care, MSF spoke out about the situation on 25 April 2007 and released a collection of testimonies, drawing attention to the fact that although political progress was being made with the peace process, civilian suffering continued.
MSF has been in the region since 2004, providing approximately 4,300 consultations monthly through the Bangolo hospital and mobile clinics in neighboring villages. Throughout the conflict, MSF had run hospitals, health centers and mobile clinics in both rebel and government held areas, as well as in the neutral buffer zone. Innovative projects were opened in Man and Danané hospitals, where anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment was offered for the first time to people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. Over 1,100 people were registered for HIV care at the end of 2006. In Man hospital, a pilot program was launched, offering surgery for women with painful and debilitating gynecological injuries known as obstetric fistulas. Together the Man and Danané projects provided over 200,000 outpatient medical consultations in 2006.
Whilst some MSF projects, particularly those in violence affected areas or where there are still large numbers of displaced, such as Guiglo (48,000 consultations in 2006) continue, others, including Bouaké Hospital in the country’s second capital, have been handed over. MSF is looking to withdraw from the country if stability and improvements in access to healthcare continue.
MSF has worked in Ivory Coast since 1990.