HIV/AIDS Services in Northern Cote d’Ivoire Still Unavailable
Health care services, including HIV/AIDS services, in Cote d'Ivoire's rebel-controlled northern region are still unavailable in spite of an agreement signed between government and rebel leaders in March 2007, PlusNews reports. According to IRIN/PlusNews, a lack of supplies, infrastructure and a shortage of health care workers have suspended many of the services in the northern region since a civil war began in the country in 2002.
N'Dri N'Guessan -- medical director of the University Hospital Center, known as CHU, in Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire -- said the hospital cannot assign doctors or nurses to HIV/AIDS services due to a shortage of staff. CHU officials said about 70 nurses are needed for the hospital to function properly; however, less than 35 are currently employed.
According to data collected by United Nations agencies, only 440 of the 729 nurses who were working in the central, northern and eastern regions of the country before the civil war were still working at the end of 2007. In addition, only one laboratory in Bouake is processing HIV tests. Yapo Felix Boa, director-general of CHU, said since the end of the war, the center has been "working at a slow pace." He added that many of the center's buildings, "which have been left abandoned," need to be repaired.
According to IRIN/PlusNews, CHU has been able to provide emergency courses of post-exposure prophylaxis antiretroviral drugs to survivors of sexual assault through partnerships with U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The hospital also has been able to treat opportunistic illnesses linked to HIV, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Boa said he hoped to reintroduce other HIV/AIDS services once CHU had "found its feet."
N'Guessan said the hospital also has organized HIV training sessions for physicians in the central, northern and eastern regions, adding that one pharmacist has already been trained in HIV care. In addition, Massagnon Soro, inspector general of the ministry devoted to HIV/AIDS, said the process of recruiting new physicians from a pool of 1,200 applicants has begun. She added that most applicants are young practitioners who have completed HIV/AIDS training (IRIN/PlusNews, 4/28).