Health Sector in Northern Cote d’Ivoire Destroyed by Civil War, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Efforts Undermined
The health sector in Cote d'Ivoire's rebel-controlled northern region has been "all but wiped out" by civil war, which began in 2002, driving out medical workers and undermining HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, according to a study released on Friday that was financed by the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, IRIN News reports. For the study, Swiss and Ivorian researchers looked at the situation in health facilities and human resources in the public and private sectors before the war began and in March 2004, 19 months after rebels seized the country's northern region. According to the study, the number of physicians in the central part of the country decreased by 98%. The number of physicians in the west declined by 91%, and the number of physicians in the north declined by 95%. Almost 80% of health facilities in rebel-held areas were looted or ravaged and the facilities that remained lacked equipment, antiretroviral drugs and testing kits for sexually transmitted infections. Researchers found that condom use among adults in northern and central areas of the country also decreased, while the number of STIs increased significantly in the west. In addition, the study finds that the number of nongovernmental organizations working to address HIV/AIDS had almost doubled since before the war in rebel-held areas, but most NGOs were local organizations that had no means to implement HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. In Bouake, the central rebel capital, several international NGOs and U.N. organizations were working to increase awareness and educate people, the study finds. According to UNAIDS, Cote d'Ivoire in 2003 had an HIV prevalence of slightly higher than 7%, but some experts estimate the figure could be higher than 10% in northern regions (IRIN News, 5/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.