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Côte d'Ivoire

For a healthy pregnancy, teen mother receives medical care and a mosquito net

UNICEF Image: Health, UNGEI
© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire /2006/Westerbeek
Mariame Diabagate, 17, from Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, receives a bed net to protect her from mosquitoes. She is pregnant and has malaria.

By Alexandra Westerbeek

BOUAKÉ, Côte d’Ivoire, 19 October 2006 – “If you start the process, you must finish it. No one else is supposed to look at it or stir it for you. That will bring bad luck and the soap will spoil,” explains Mariame Diabagate, 17, as she mixes honey, lemon, coconut oil, carrots, green mud and some other ingredients together in a big pot.

Mariame lives in Dar Es Salaam – a neighbourhood of Bouaké, the second largest city in Côte d’Ivoire – with her husband, their two-year-old son and assorted in-laws. They share a housing compound with two other families. The electricity has been cut off because they cannot afford the bill.

Adama Kone, Mariame’s husband, is a 21-year-old military employee who works three hours away from home. He provides the income for the entire family. With the money he earns, they pay around $30 for their rooms in the compound.

Model health clinic

Five months pregnant with her second child, Mariame looks radiant but tired. She has malaria again. The Koko Maternity Clinic gave her a mosquito net three days ago when she went for her regular antenatal care visit. All antenatal patients at the clinic are fully immunized and receive mosquito nets.

UNICEF Image: Health, UNGEI
© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire /2006/Westerbeek
Mariame makes soap with help from her first child. She will pay for medical expenses with proceeds from selling her soap.

The nurse who examined Mariame was pleased that her pregnancy was going well but concerned about the effect the malaria might have on the development of the unborn baby.

UNICEF, with funding from the European Union, has just finished the rehabilitation of the Koko clinic. With trained health personnel, vaccination equipment, medications and medical supplies, the clinic is now a prime example of how integrated services are delivered to pregnant women, infants and young children.

‘All the services I need’

Although the mosquito net came too late to protect Mariame from malaria this time, she received a prescription to treat the illness. When Mariame has the money, she will return to the clinic’s pharmacy – which provides medications at cost – to buy the malaria treatment.

“I like the Koko clinic. It is a bit far from where I live, but I prefer to go there. All the services I need are available,” Mariame remarks while filling jars with soap.

The entire pot of soap is worth about $60, representing a profit of up to $30. It usually takes the family a month to sell it all. “I hope we sell a bit in the next couple of days so I can go back to the clinic and get my medication,” says Mariame. She also hopes this is the last time she will have malaria.

“In the clinic they explained why using a bed net is important and how to use it correctly,” she continues. “They told me about the relationship between malaria and mosquitoes, and the dangers to me and my child. I want to stay healthy, and I hope the net will help.”




18 October 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on maternal health care in Côte d’Ivoire.
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