With a ratio of one doctor per 6,000 inhabitants, Côte d’Ivoire is undertaking many health projects to improve its public health system.
From low wages to unequal access to healthcare, dilapidated institutions or malaria, Ivorians’ health is still facing structural and societal problems. Most of the Ivorian public hospitals and health establishments were built between the 1960s and 1980s and are no longer in line with demand. Far from major cities, people do not always have access to medical specialties such as radiotherapy or obstetrics, and the lack of vehicles to transport blood, medicines or patients hinders successful care. Finally, the space allocated for families who come to assist their loved ones is often insufficient or even overcrowded.
However, some of the measures undertaken have already had positive effects. Thanks to the national effort to fight malaria, one of the major causes of consultation in Côte d’Ivoire, the incidence of the disease has reduced. Although it ranked 5th among the 15 countries most heavily affected by the pandemic in 2010, Côte d’Ivoire now ranks 12th. The government has also built about 100 first-contact health facilities, released doctors’ salaries, hired more than 10,000 health professionals and introduced targeted free healthcare. Finally, the Minister of Health recently announced the possibility of using drones for the emergency transport of medicines and blood.
In the plantations
Ivorian agriculture and agri-food activities are the main source of employment, accounting for 60% of the working population. This is an essential aspect which Compagnie Fruitière has been able to take into account since the early 2000s. As part of its Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) policy, the group has thus introduced access to healthcare and drinking water for all plantation employees, their families and residents within its SCB (Société de Culture Bananière) sectors. Vaccination and information campaigns and prevention and treatment programmes against AIDS and onchocerciasis have been launched. Clinics and maternity wards as well as a mutual health insurance scheme have been set up. Finally, two hospitals, one located in Cameroon and another in Côte d’Ivoire, were established between 1998 and 2012, thanks to the Compagnie Fruitière Endowment Fund and the Order of Malta.
A new hospital ideally located
Inspired by the Saint-Jean de Malte Hospital built in 1998 in Njombe, Cameroon, Saint-Jean Baptiste Hospital in Côte d’Ivoire is located in the village of Bodo and will soon have a capacity of 100 beds, open to all. Focusing its efforts on the maternal and child healthcare facility, 550 babies were born in the establishment in 2017. In a country where the maternal mortality rate remains high (614 deaths per 100,000) and where infant mortality before the age of 5 is still 9%, the staff’s mission goes far beyond consultations and obstetric care. Midwives, nurses and gynaecologists transmit good practices related to maternal and child health, thus joining the country’s extensive awareness campaign. At Saint-Jean Baptiste Hospital, patients are informed about the value of ante-natal consultations, the importance of full vaccination of children before the age of one, the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and the benefits of breastfeeding during the first six months of a child’s life.
Strategically located on the road between Yamoussoukro and Abidjan, the hospital treats a large number of traffic accidents, thanks in particular to its emergency service and its 24-hour pharmacy. Previously, victims had to go to the emergency room of the Abidjan University Hospital Centre, a two-hour drive from Bodo. With an operating room and various units providing care in surgery, general medicine, paediatrics, gynaecology, obstetrics and emergency medicine, the hospital now employs more than 110 people. Every day, these dedicated employees strive to expand access to health care for the poorest, while improving the daily lives of plantation staff.