Photo of the Week: Crisis in the Central African Republic


Photo: Greg Funnell/Save the Children 

Roseline *, 21, rests after having given birth at 5am that day to a malnourished child at Bouar hospital, Central African Republic. She is also malnourished due to her flight into the bush as fighting and instability forced people from their homes. 

As the fighting continues across the country, the humanitarian situation threatens to spiral out of control. To date, Save the Children has reached nearly 40,000 children, focusing on health, child protection and nutrition. In addition to on-going humanitarian programs, Save the Children is currently supporting clinics and hospitals and setting up new child protection spaces in the capital, Bangui, to meet the needs of the thousands of people who have been displaced. 

*name changed to protect identity. 

The Bouar Hospital, where this photo by Greg Funnell was taken, serves approximately 57,000 people. There is no neonatal ward to treat babies who need care during the newborn period (the first 28 days of life). There are only two doctors, one of whom is also responsible for regional healthcare and is thus often away from the hospital. The main doctor, Doctor Wilfred, is the only surgeon. Like many of the hospitals in CAR, it is often eerily quiet; owing to the fact that most people cannot afford to pay for the services provided or fear coming to access healthcare.

Even before the political and emergency humanitarian situation began there, newborn babies faced difficult odds. The Central African Republic has one of the highest first-day mortality rates, at 16 per 1,000 live births, acording today from 2011. With fighting displacing people like Roseline, pregnant women are not getting the care they need nor are their newborn babies.

While many local and international health partners are working to improve conditions for women, families and their children, the recent election of Catherine Samba-Panza offers hope that a political solution to the crisis might be possible. For a more detailed look at humanitarian conditions on the ground, please visit the website of the International Committee of the Red Cross.


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