Côte d'Ivoire

Warnings on shortage of essential drugs amidst crisis in Côte d'Ivoire

© UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire/2011/Asselin
Dr. Kabore Alizata examines Kouadio Kouadio, 6, who suffers from malaria and bronchitis, at the urban health centre in the town of Kani, Cote d'Ivoire.

By Patrick Slavin

KANI, Côte d’Ivoire, 3 February 2011 – Malaria is the leading cause of mortality among children under the age of five in this West African nation, and UNICEF is concerned that stocks of essential drugs to treat the deadly disease are in danger of running out in two to four weeks’ time.

“We already have reports that some district pharmacies have run out of anti-malarial drugs,” said UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Agostino Paganini. “The shortage could affect other essential drugs soon. If we don’t act quickly to dispatch these drugs, patients could be forced to stop treatments that doctors and nurses prescribe, including basic antibiotics.”

The concerns about shortages have emerged in the context of political uncertainty here, part of a national crisis that has gripped Côte d’Ivoire since elections were held in late November. 

Treatment for malaria cases

In Kani, where farmers dry sheets of cocoa beans and tap rubber trees, the local hospital serves a population of 22,000. In August of last year, a total of 153 children aged five and younger were treated at the hospital, according to Chief Resident Dr. Alizata Kabore.

Out of these cases, 131 children were diagnosed with malaria and were prescribed dosages of artesunate and amodiaquine, which are used to treat the disease.

© UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire/2011/Asselin
Digata Kehi with her 18-month-old son Chris Ruben, who suffers from malaria, inside the Catholic Mission in the town of Duekoue, Côte d'Ivoire.

After examining Kouadio Kouadio, 6, at the Kani hospital, Dr. Kabore said the boy likely had malaria and bronchitis, and was suffering from malnutrition. “We ordered two boxes of artesunate and amodiaquine from the district pharmacy in Seguela, but we were only allocated one,” added Dr. Kabore.

Because of support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as UNICEF and the World Health Organization, children under five receive free anti-malarial drugs in Côte d’Ivoire.

Help from UNICEF and partners

“The public health system is struggling to function and meet the needs of patients,” said UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire Health Specialist Dr. Eli Ramamonjisoa. “State pharmacies in northern and western regions of the country, which supply hospitals and clinics, are beginning to run out of essential medicines. Supplies of ARVs – to treat HIV/AIDS positive patients and to prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child – began to reach parts of Côte d’Ivoire last week, thanks to the work of UNICEF.”

The Global Fund has provided 6 million insecticide-treated nets to Côte d’Ivoire to protect people from malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. UNICEF and its partners are planning to distribute the nets to the population as soon as possible, so that children do not suffer from the fallout of the country’s political crisis.



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