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Cote d’Ivoire: Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns

08 Jun 2017

In Cote d’Ivoire’s central Hambol region, Médecins Sans Frontières is partnering with the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene to reduce maternal and child mortality. In 2017, their joint programme is extending its support to the region’s most far-flung communities.

“Fatoumata’s story is emblematic of the reasons why MSF is in Katiola”, says Dr Gabriel Kabilwa, medical referent for the program. “Here in the region of Hambol there are too many women every year just like Fatoumata, and newborns, who die during childbirth or soon after. The principal causes in the women are severe haemorrhage and eclampsia [a hypertensive disorder during pregnancy]. For the babies, the key cause is sepsis [severe general infection]. Many maternal and newborn deaths are also the result of poor access to the level of care which would handle complications such as these. This type of care is too expensive, too far away, or just simply unavailable. That is why it is important to strengthen access to care in the most underserved areas of Hambol.”

“To achieve this, MSF’s partnership with the national Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene supports access to and the availability of quality care for women in the region, in Katiola hospital and three primary healthcare centres (PHC)”, explains Romain Jacquier, programme coordinator in Katiola. “These are the physical links in our continuum of care, that starts with monitoring of the pregnancy before delivery, and progresses through maternity care at the time of childbirth, the management of obstetric emergencies, and neonatal care when the baby has been born too small or suffers complications.”

Since we began supporting the PHC, our joint Médecins Sans Frontières and Ministry team of midwives has assisted with direct care in the PHC, telephone consultations when PHC staff have emergency patients, and organising referral to the hospital if the women or newborns require it. Médecins Sans Frontières also supplies essential medicines, equipment and regular access to clean water in the PHCs and the hospital. In 2017 the objective is to double the number of PHCs supported by the partnership, and to help renovate Katiola’s long-standing mother-and-child health centre. As part of our commitment to maternal and newborn care in Hambol, we're also aiming to strengthen the population’s access to healthcare through offering vaccination and care for victims of sexual violence.