Ivory Coast: Wounded patients continue to arrive

As traffic starts to circulate around Abidjan once again, the wounded continue to arrive at Abobo Sud hospital where MSF is working. Having been restricted to the hospital for the past 10 days, the team is now extending activities. Interview with Issoufou SALHA, MSF head of mission:

What have the past two weeks been like?
For ten days, up to April 11th, Abidjan’s health facilities were practically inaccessible to the sick and wounded. Given the risks, inhabitants stayed locked up at home, many healthcare workers could not get to their workplace and ambulance services stopped. During this period, the hospital in south Abobo where we work was accessible only to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood or those that risked coming by their own means of transport. It was impossible to relay our team for 10 days. Up to April 11th, when we received 80 wounded, the team was facing an average of 25-30 causalities daily, excluding the sick and the increasing number of women that had been coming to give birth at the hospital.

How has the situation evolved since then?
The level of violence has decreased, but has not yet completely subsided. Pillaging and hold ups continue is certain neighbourhoods of Abidjan. We received 15-20 wounded over Tuesday and Wednesday - today we’ve already received 20. The patients are mainly victims of road accidents, attacks or gunshot wounds. It is not only the fact that traffic is circulating again, the accidents are mainly due to car-thefts escalating into more serious situations with tensions running high. Abobo Sud hospital was already overflowing, today there is simply not enough room to care for all the wounded. The hospital initially had 20 beds, we currently have 90 hospitalised patients!

Do you intend to extend activities?
We’ve got no choice ; we have already started setting up temporary tents for the patients that are in the hospital’s lobby for the moment. We have started working in Anyama hospital, 45 minutes from Abobo. Located in another district, this referral hospital will help drain the facility we are currently working in by transferring patients that need long term hospitalisation, particularly reconstructive surgery. This new facility will also help us to improve our emergency response: we are planning to equip the operating theatre which should be functional by the end of the week. We have also started providing support to four health facilities in the Abobo and Anyama neighbourhoods by donating medicines and helping with human resources when needed. The most critical cases are transferred from these facilities to the hospitals were we work.