“Reporting from Côte d’Ivoire”- posted on 3/21/07
During the past few years, the world has watched Côte d’Ivoire in a state of crisis due to the continued fighting between the north and the south. Yet another major crisis exists just under the political surface – “paludisme.” (For those of you who are like me and don’t speak French, we are talking about the Ivory Coast and malaria.) On behalf of the UN Foundation, I have the opportunity to visit this beautiful area in West Africa, accompanied by Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, leader of the Texas United Methodist Church. We are here to understand the state of malaria and other crippling diseases in Côte d’Ivoire. Malaria is the cause of 80% of the hospital visits in this country.
Today in Abidjan, we met with U.S. Ambassador Aubrey Hooks. He stated that his largest concern, beyond the political unrest, is the 17 million people here at risk of dying of malaria. The Ambassador also said there are very few mosquito nets in the country and they are applying for a Global Fund grant to aid malaria control. The Measles Initiative is scheduled to facilitate an integrated child health campaign here in 2008, but before then we all have to fill the gaping hole of 4.5 million nets needed in Côte d’Ivoire. To me, that is 4.5 million reasons to Send a Net and Save a Life.
” ‘Malaria is killing the people of my country. . .’ “- posted on 3/23/07
Today we had the great pleasure of visiting with the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo. His sincere concern for malaria was very moving as he emotionally stated, “Malaria is killing the people of my country, though the only thing everyone talks about is AIDS.” Since the global health community acknowledged close correlations between malaria and HIV, there have been great strides made toward joint prevention of these two deadly diseases. Though HIV and AIDS are still at dangerously high levels around the world, in many countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, malaria is actually killing more individuals than AIDS.
Yesterday we visited a hospital in Dabou one of the best HIV/AIDS treatment centers in the country. The success I saw was the inclusion of malaria control in the program. Every hospital bed was covered by a net. Once individuals are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, they are immediately treated for malaria; people with AIDS have a very difficult time fighting off malaria and must be treated to prevent anemia and possible death. In addition, people coming into the hospital with malaria are given free tests for HIV/AIDS.
I found this to be a very positive step forward in the prevention and treatment of both HIV/AIDS and malaria. No matter your passion or issue, we may all work together to fight these devastating diseases.