What is the level of malnutrition among the children?
Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition. One in five children under five was considered underweight. With the outbreak of conflict and massive population movement, it has been difficult to gather accurate and up-to-date information on malnutrition rates; however Save the Children and other agencies working on malnutrition have observed worrying signs of increases in malnutrition, including some areas where severe acute malnutrition has increased in a matter of weeks. Save the Children has recently started up malnutrition screening and treatment for children under five in western Ivory Coast, where some of the worst of the fighting and looting took place during the conflict.
Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)
Are there any basic health services available to children?
One of the immediate results of the conflict was the breakdown in health services as hospitals and health centres closed in many areas due to the fighting, with health workers fleeing the areas hit by violence and the centres and hospitals themselves being looted and pillaged. Medicines and medical equipment were stolen, which meant that even once health workers began returning and hospitals began to re-open, patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed.
Another major concern has been health user fees – because so many families lost their means to an income, they could no longer afford medical care and treatment. As a result of advocacy by aid agencies like Save the Children however, the Ivorian government agreed to drop health user fees, passing a decree enabling families to access free health care throughout the country.
Today, health centres are largely open and running with the support of agencies like Save the Children, who ensure regular provision of medical supplies and essential medicines, as well as support in rehabilitating infrastructures destroyed during the conflict. For areas where there are no functioning health centres or hospitals running, Save the Children and other agencies have been running mobile outreach clinics, travelling to remote villages and towns to ensure that the health needs of children and their families' are being addressed and proper care and treatment is provided.