Political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has forced health workers to postpone a nationwide campaign to vaccinate residents against yellow fever. The drive, sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, has been delayed twice, according to IRIN news service.
Yellow fever is a lethal illness borne by mosquitoes that has been killing people in the northern-central area of Côte d’Ivoire The immunization drive was originally scheduled for late November, around the same time as the nation’s presidential election.
Although the UN and other international entities have recognized opponent candidate Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the November 28 election, presidential incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down. Violent clashes between supporters of the two rivals in Abidjan, the nation’s commercial capital, have made traveling unsafe.
According to IRIN, a World Health Organization (WHO) advisor said that a second attempt to implement the drive, scheduled for mid-January, was unlikely. Insecurity along the country’s roads and constrained bus service make traveling difficult. The situation has prevented UN and local health workers from fanning out across the country over a concentrated period of time to carry out vaccinations.
Meanwhile, health workers are vaccinating small numbers of people. It is critical that they reach the whole country, WHO has told IRIN. Half of the people who contract yellow fever die, usually because of lack of treatment for dehydration and fever. Vaccination is the single best prevention, according to WHO.
In the last two decades, reduced immunity to infection, as well as deforestation, population movement, and climate change have contributed to rising cases of yellow fever.
Keeping Children Loved, Fed, and Healthy in Côte d’Ivoire
Health care and security are often threatened in societies that face frequent political turmoil or natural disasters. SOS Children’s Villages works in 132 countries around the world to give safe haven to children in need, especially at such times. On the ground in Ivory Coast since 1971, SOS Children’s Villages offers a warm, supportive home for vulnerable children in its two Children’s Villages—in Abobo-Gare (outside of Abidjan) and in Aboisso.
To learn more, please visit www.sos-usa.org.