World Health Day

Heroes for health in the Central African Republic

"The world's most silent crisis": the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic political, economic, social and health crises feed into and aggravate one another. Rocked by internal turmoil – four wars in the last decade – it is one of the poorest countries on earth. The 2001–2003 conflicts have left deep physical and mental scars on the people of the Central African Republic.

War crimes were widespread: torture, pillage, destruction, gang rape, abduction and murder of women, men and children. These events went virtually unnoticed by the world, leading the United Nations to describe the situation in the Central African Republic as "the world's most silent crisis".

A grim health picture

  • Widespread communicable diseases include HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, sleeping sickness, typhoid fever and meningitis.
  • Rates of maternal and infant mortality are rising sharply.
  • Less than one-third of the population has access to clean water.
  • Average life expectancy in 1995 was 49 years; in 2003 it was 41 years.
  • There is one physician for every 17 850 people; one nurse for every 7812 people; one hospital bed for every 1095 people.

"In the heart of Africa, there are four million people who need help. The doctors see their patients dying because they don’t have something just to save their lives."

Léa Koyassoum Doumta, Minister of Public Health and Population