Healthcare in the CAR: The Verge of Collapse

healthcare in the CAR on the verge of collapse

TGR | 8 May 2014 |

There may be some relief in the future for the Central African Republic as the United Nations Security Council has voted to deploy nearly 12,000 desperately needed peacekeeping troops, although not until September 2014, more than four months away. The Central African Republic has been steeped in terrifying acts of violence – which has been categorized as a Genocide Emergency by the human rights group Genocide Watch. Enmeshed in turmoil that stems from the coup in 2007, the country has struggled to provide a working health system. The reality is that healthcare in the CAR is on the verge of collapse.

Limited Healthcare Resources

According to Dr. Michel Yao of the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a decline in the ability to not only effectively treat diseases such as malaria, but also provide key precautions such as immunizations to children. Hospitals have been looted, and the lack of security has prevented humanitarian relief efforts. As recent as July 2013, an assessment of the situation determined that less than half of health facilities were operational; however, the number of working facilities has worsened.

In Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, 37 percent of the population is reported to have malaria. Inadequate living conditions and water access have seen an increase in diarrhoeal disease. Without basic necessities such as clean water and electricity, the disease is a problem. Due to the lack of immunization, there has been an increase in the number of people contracting measles.

Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers in CAR are at a disadvantage, the majority of whom have not been paid in nearly five months. Add to this the separation from their families – mainly because of the deficient conditions such as no schools, lack of water and electricity, and the fact that most live in fear for their lives.

Among the growing concerns, is the spread of disease (especially polio) throughout the region via internally displaced persons (IDPs) and displaced persons across borders. Other priorities include finding an affordable means to bring medical supplies into CAR as well as food.

CAR is different from most other humanitarian crises in that it is not a natural disaster. There are daily accounts of extreme violence, including gang rapes, mutilations, and killings, which make it very difficult to work. The situation is dire, and the people are suffering largely because humanitarian groups cannot gain access to help. Children are malnourished and sick. Of grave concern is the lack of funding available to provide aid to people. With the rainy season on the way, the question remains…is nearly five months too long to wait for the people of the Central African Republic?

Photo Credit: The impact of the violence by DFID – UK Department for International Development – License under CC 2.0 license