8 November 2016

Central African Republic: Diseases Take Toll in Troubled CAR

Photo: Kieran Guilbert/Thomson Reuters Foundation
Koulsoumi, 14, fled violence in the Central African Republic last year and sought refuge with a host family in east Cameroon on October 31, 2016.

Kinshasa — CHILDREN are bearing the biggest brunt of a health crisis emanating from conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The ongoing strife that has killed thousands and forced up to a quarter of the entire population (5 million) to flee their homes, further disrupted an already barely functioning health system.

All state functions have ground to a halt, including routine vaccination programmes, making an already bad situation even direr.

In Bangassou, the main city of Mbomou province, respiratory infections are the third cause of mortality among children, after malaria and neonatal deaths.

During the upcoming dry season, when malaria cases drop, respiratory illnesses jump to the top as the deadliest disease for the youngest.

Health centers are insufficient, poorly stocked and staffed.

Their limited services are unaffordable for most.

Even before the latest crisis, vaccination coverage was already very low at barely an estimated 40 percent, which meant high childhood mortality due to easily preventable diseases.

"In CAR, one had better not fall sick," said a practitioner with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The humanitarian health organization has vaccinated over 100 000 minors across the country, having stepped in to assist the struggling government. -CAJ News

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