Photo: Patients wait for triage at the Damara Health Center in the Central African Republic.CAR 2013 © Chloé Cébron/MSF
MSF Expands Emergency Services in CAR While Waiting For Peace Deal To Take Hold
As the government of Central African Republic (CAR) attempts to implement a peace deal it struck with rebel groups in the country, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is continuing to expand its emergency response to thousands of people who have been affected by the conflict. MSF is also negotiating for greater access to areas where health care staff has fled and basic medical services are no longer available.
In recent weeks, as the conflict worsened, thousands of civilians fled their homes and sought refuge in the bush, where they tried to subsist without proper shelter, safe drinking water, or access to medical services. On January 10, MSF opened an emergency project in the government-held frontline town of Damara and began providing basic health care, conducting mobile clinics, and supporting displaced people in order to prevent deaths due to common illnesses such as diarrhea, respiratory infections, and malaria, which is a chronic health care threat in CAR. Medical staff has been treating up to 100 patients per day, most of them for malaria and malnutrition.
"The Central African population already suffers from some of the worst health indicators in the world, with alarming mortality rates even in peaceful times,” says Sylvain Groulx, an MSF coordinator in CAR. “Because of the recent instability, many people have been forced to displace themselves. An added burden is the fact that many local health facilities closed when medical staff fled into the bush. The few health posts that have remained open are either running out of basic essential medicines or, worse, had their stock completely looted.”