Poverty & Healthcare

A mixture of Western-style and traditional medicine

A well-developed system of healthcare was established in Ivory Coast, including large hospitals and a network of clinics at Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa and Korhogo.

Shortage of doctors

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is only one doctor for every 10,000 people.

Doctor and nurse at medical clinic

However, the 2002 civil war brought severe disruption to services, particularly in northern regions. Health professionals left the country and Ivory Coast now has a severe shortage of trained medical staff.

Free healthcare was introduced in Ivory Coast after the most recent period of unrest. However, hospitals, doctors and dentists struggled to cope with the huge demand. Free services are now available just to mothers and children under six.

Medicines remain costly and in short supply and many people turn to traditional forms of healing, particularly in rural areas.

The threat of disease

Killer diseases

In 2012, more than 2 million cases of malaria were reported and over 23,000 cases of tuberculosis (WHO).

As elsewhere in this region of Africa, diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are a constant threat. And around 390,000 people aged 15+ (3% of the adult population) are infected with HIV/AIDS.

With greater awareness of how HIV/AIDS is spread and the use of drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission, the rate of new infections has decreased over the last decade. And more than 100,000 people are receiving antiretroviral therapy. However, this represents coverage of only around 55% of adults who require treatment (based on the 2010 WHO guidelines) and just 16% of children.

Poverty and malnutrition

With many farmers affected by low rates of return on their produce and fluctuating global prices for commodities like cocoa and coffee, poverty is a major problem in Ivory Coast. Around a quarter of the country’s people live on less than 1.25 dollars a day.

The number of stunted children is high in Ivory Coast at 28% of under-fives (WHO 2006–2012), as many Ivorians continue to struggle feeding their families.

Violence following the disputed election of 2010 affected livelihoods, with many farmers unable to sell their produce during this period. But with peace and stability returning over the last few years, Ivorians are looking forward to better times.