After weeks of virtual shutdown, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan is slowly recovering and health centers are progressively reopening. The population stayed in their home for more than two weeks and due to shortage of staff, drugs and supplies, most health facilities in the city had to close. UNICEF has started to deliver basic kits with drugs, supplies and other materials to help the health centers to be quickly functional and treat patients. Report by Ange Ayé-Aké
No more drugs in hospitals
Since January of this year, health centers across the country had not been resupplied in essential drugs by the state pharmacy. The hospital in Marcory, a district of Abidjan, is responsible for an area of about 250,000 people but is now also covering the neighboring districts where hospitals are still closed. It has not been fully functional since the beginning of the year, and was completely shut for the past 20 days.
“We have reopened on Monday, but we still have difficulties having clean water. The pressure in the tap is very low,” says Dr Julien Kassi, Director of the hospital. “We need a pump to boost the water pressure. We also need drugs to treat malaria, diarrhea and other common diseases. We also need medical supplies to perform basic surgeries. And most importantly we need personnel.”
The hospital pharmacy is almost empty while the needs have never been so big in the aftermath of intense fighting that spread to the city earlier this month. A lot of displaced people from other districts of Abidjan such as Abobo are coming to Marcory to be treated. The pharmacy doesn’t have any more ARVs to treat about 100 HIV positive patients, most of whom are women and children, who come on a regular basis to receive those free drugs. About 20 more patients from other districts have also come to the hospital to ask for ARV drugs. According to Salimata Bony who manages the ARV stocks at the hospital, what they have will cover until 5 May and after that the hospital has no more ARV drugs to treat its regular patients.
Madoussou is a mother of 25 years old from the district of Port-Bouët in Abidjan. With her 10-month old boy Ismael she drove 45 minutes to reach the Marcory Hospital to get her child vaccinated against Measles.
“For more than a week I have tried to get my son vaccinated but the health center in my district is closed. I went there twice as well as in another center closer to my home, but it’s also closed,” said Madoussou.
Many hospitals across the city are short of staff, drugs and supplies and are facing difficulties to reopen. UNICEF has airlifted over 60 tons of supplies to Cote d’Ivoire to prompt reopening of health facilities throughout the country. The organization is slowly but steadily reaching out to the population, but pockets of insecurity, closure of banks and low capacity of implementing partners are hindering its efforts to act quickly.