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Cote d’Ivoire Working To Rebuild Health Care System Under New Presidential Administration

“Ten months after the West African country [of Cote d'Ivoire] started to emerge from a presidential election crisis during which almost all hospitals and clinics had to shut down for a good six months because they had been vandalized, looted and occupied, the new government under President Alassane Ouattara is trying to make public health care a priority,” including implementing “[a] new national health regulation, which came into effect on Mar. 1, that offers free health services to pregnant women, children under five years and people suffering from malaria,” Inter Press Service reports. “But in a country recovering from 12 years of political instability since a military coup in December 1999 that was followed by 10 years of [former President Laurent] Gbagbo’s autocratic rule, rebuilding a crumbling public health care system takes time,” IPS writes, adding, “Hospitals have been suffering from lack of skilled staff, basic equipment and technology for years.”

During post-election violence, “many Ivorians were injured during clashes, and thousands of displaced persons lacked access to clean water [and] sanitation and were exposed to malaria,” IPS notes, adding that the number of cases of malnutrition, cholera, meningitis, measles, diarrhea, and respiratory infections also increased. “The combination of looting and increased illness placed a burden on an already struggling health system that will take many more months to fix,” according to the news service, which notes UNICEF has expressed concern that “the situation might have lasting negative consequences for Ivorian children — especially if the government does not manage to rebuild the health system quickly throughout the country” (Palitza, 3/14).