Ivory Coast HIV Rate Worsened by Conflict: Government
October 6, 2005
Ivory Coast Health Minister Albert Mabri Toikeusee said efforts to help HIV/AIDS patients have been hampered during the past three years because most foreign donors suspended funding after a rebellion split the country into two rival zones. The ministry said some 570,000 people, 7 percent of the Ivorian population, have HIV/AIDS, and medical workers are unable to cope with the epidemic.
France and the World Bank are two former donors who no longer contribute, Toikeusse said, adding that most of the health and social infrastructure in the northern half of the country has been destroyed since New Forces (FN) rebels seized the area in 2002.
"Since it's impossible to get some preventive programs up and running in the rebel zone, we fear the disease rate will soar," said Siaka Toure, director of the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Aconda, which cares for 30 percent of the HIV-positive people who can be reached in Ivory Coast. Aconda estimates that 18 percent of the population of Bouake, the FN's stronghold and second-biggest city in the country after Abidjan, is affected by HIV/AIDS.
Staff from other NGOS note that large numbers of people have moved into the government-held south during the crisis, further burdening an overwhelmed health system. As part of President George W. Bush's emergency HIV/AIDS initiative, the United States provided Ivory Coast with $42 million. The goal is to treat 7,000 people with ARVs, provide care for 385,000 AIDS orphans, and fund prevention measures. A solution to the political crisis would enable the return of foreign workers and donors and help the fight against AIDS, Toikeusse said.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.