Côte d’Ivoire: the humanitarian health implications of the current political crisis
The humanitarian health implications of the current political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire are difficult to predict. Ivoirians are fleeing to neighbouring countries, particularly to Liberia where more than 30 000 have now sought refuge at a rate of almost 600 new arrivals per day. Clashes in the west have raised the number displaced persons in these areas to 18 000, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to 450 000.
In the health sector, the main effect of the crisis is to reduce access to health services for affected people. This is aggravated by the weakness of health systems in a sub region only starting to recover from long-standing conflicts. Displaced people need emergency health care, including trauma management, as well as essential and basic health care, such as obstetric and mental health care, and care for malnutrition. The risk of outbreak diseases such as yellow fever has increased, calling for close monitoring. This influx of population is putting a strain on communities with already limited resources and the competition for limited resources requires coordinated health interventions.
WHO has deployed staff members to support coordination and the provision of medical supplies. So far enough supplies have been prepositioned in the affected countries to cover the basic health need of 120 000 people for 3 months, including 1000 surgical interventions for injuries.
Close communication among the concerned country offices, the WHO Regional Office for Africa and headquarters is being maintained to monitor preparedness and response capacities.
A Regional Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan was launched on 14 January to reinforce response, preparedness and coordination among humanitarian partners in Côte d’Ivoire and in the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea and Mali. It is requesting US$ 32.7 million to respond to the actual and potential humanitarian needs of up to 2 million people including refugees, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable groups.
Regional sector response plans developed for the Regional EHAP reflect the four strategic objectives of the 2011 Regional CAP for West Africa:
- Reduce excess mortality and morbidity in crisis situations,
- Reinforce livelihoods of the most vulnerable people severely affected by slow or sudden-onset crisis,
- Ensure humanitarian access and improve protection of vulnerable people,
- Strengthen coordination and preparedness of emergencies at national and regional levels.
In addition, an Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Liberia was launched requesting US$ 55 million to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs of refugees and returnees in Liberia.
Both appeals amount to US$ 87million of which US$ 5 million is dedicated to health. WHO is requesting US$ 2.5 million for assessment/diseases surveillance, coordination and the provision of basic health services.