Why health care is all but impossible to access in Central African Republic

A new mini documentary exposes the forgotten health crisis in the country with the lowest life expectancy in the world: Central African Republic.

Beds without mattresses inside the Bakouma secondary hospital, Mbomou prefecture in Central African Republic

Central African Republic 2023 © Julien Dewarichet/MSF

Decades of political unrest and violence between armed groups have fueled a massive crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), leaving more than half of its 5.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Yet there are very few humanitarian organizations in this region, and international attention is scarce.  

A new mini documentary, Does Anybody Care?, takes viewers into Mbomou prefecture, where Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supports the regional hospital and health posts. Watch the video for a glimpse of what patients and health care providers experience every day in CAR.  

Does Anybody Care?

Watch the mini documentary

Consequences of a forgotten emergency

CAR has the world’s lowest life expectancy, at just 54 years—nearly two decades younger than the global average, 73 years. Child mortality rates rank among the highest globally, and pregnant women face a substantial risk of death or severe illness due to the scarcity of gynecologists. According to the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health, less than half of health care facilities in CAR are fully operational, and there are 0.6 doctors for every 10,000 people—one of the lowest ratios in the world. 

"There are 18 of us running the hospital, but I'm the only one with medical training," said Dr. Louis-Marie Sabio, a former MSF doctor who left the city of Bangassou to work in Bakouma secondary hospital, in the northwestern part of the Mbomou prefecture. "Due to our limited technical resources, we can't meet the basic requirements of a hospital. We have no electricity, preventing us from performing ultrasounds or X-rays. The operating theater is virtually bare, equipped with only a small solar panel to power two lightbulbs. When patients need medicine, we have to send them to the local market and hope they find something." 

MSF supports 15 health facilities in CAR and has 2,800 staff in the country. Our teams provide general and emergency care; trauma surgery; maternal and pediatric services; assistance to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence; and treatment for malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. But the health needs are much greater than MSF can address on its own. 

Watch Does Anybody Care? for more on this forgotten health emergency >