CAR: Humanitarian agencies distribute medical supplies in capital

26 April, 2013
April 2013: A young boy receiving treatment at the paediatric hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. An assessment carried out in March revealed widespread shortages of health personnel and medications throughout the city. CREDIT: EMERGENCY/Paul Ley
April 2013: A young boy receiving treatment at the paediatric hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. An assessment carried out in March revealed widespread shortages of health personnel and medications throughout the city. CREDIT: EMERGENCY/Paul Ley

Despite widespread insecurity, UN Agencies and humanitarian partners are bringing life-saving aid to thousands of people in need of urgent medical attention in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). 

The country has been embroiled in crisis since December 2012, when the launch of a rebel offensive triggered waves of killings, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary arrests and forced recruitment of children into armed groups. The entire population of CAR, some 4.6 million people, has been affected by the crisis with 173,000 people internally displaced.
 
“The people of CAR need us. Hundreds of thousands have been cut off from aid. They urgently need medical care and other life-saving assistance,” said Kaarina Immonen, the Humanitarian Coordinator for CAR.
 
An assessment carried out in late March revealed chronic shortages of health personnel and medications in Bangui. While health services have been interrupted, the number of patients in need has increased.

Medical stocks have been depleted and equipment and materials looted. Hospitals are unable to provide anaesthesia and trauma care, and even basic drugs and hygiene products are not available. In addition, 13,703 people receiving anti-retroviral treatment for HIV are believed to be unable to obtain their medication.
 
“We remain extremely concerned about the well-being and health of the people,” said Sylvain Groulx, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bangui.
 
“Even in times of peace, people endure daily hardship just to survive. Already before the recent events, mortality rates of preventable and treatable diseases exceeded emergency thresholds in many areas of the country. Insecurity is now pushing already fragile coping mechanisms to the limit,” Mr. Groulx added.
 
Before this current crisis, access to medical care in CAR was limited for most. Maternal mortality rates stood at 890 per 100,000 live births, and infant mortality rate was 112 for every 1,000 live births – among the very worst levels in the world. One-hundred-and-fifty out of every 1,000 children do not live to the age of five.
 
In response, humanitarian agencies are delivering drugs and obstetric and surgical supplies to health centres and hospitals across Bangui. This effort will cover essential needs in the capital for two months. 
 
But more is needed throughout the country, where communities in many areas are cut off entirely from medical care. To make matters worse, outside of Bangui, robberies and violence have forced most humanitarian partners to temporarily suspend their activities.  
 
“The humanitarian community is calling for the respect of international humanitarian and human rights law and immediate humanitarian access to people in need,” said Kaarina Immonen.
 
 

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