Helping children sickened by malaria

Victorina and her son seek treatment. OCHA/Edgar Ngarbaroum

Central African Republic | 2023 | CBPF

Central African Republic, Bocaranga. In Bocaranga Hospital in the country’s west, mothers sit by their children’s bedsides with worried faces. One of the children is Christel, who is 5 years old. His mother, Victorine, explains, “He was very sick. I brought him for a consultation three days ago. The doctor diagnosed malaria and since then we have been here for treatment.”

A major public health challenge

In the Central African Republic (CAR), the under-five mortality rate is the fifth highest in the world (113 children per 1,000) according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under five and a major public health concern, particularly during the rainy season – April to September – when the number of cases increases.

“In 2022, we saw over 1,000 sick children and more than 60 per cent were suffering from malaria. Cases are recurrent and constitute the main pathology diagnosed in the region,” explains Dr. Osias Yandi, Bocaranga Hospital’s most senior doctor.

CAR’s fragile health system has suffered many shocks in recent years, including the resurgence of armed violence, structural challenges and the effects of COVID-19. With 120,000 residents, the Bocaranga district has one of the few hospitals in the region. About 70 per cent of people live below the poverty line. For Victorine and many people like her, it’s difficult to access health services. “I don’t have formal employment. That’s why I started treating my son’s illness with traditional plants – I don’t have any money. My neighbour told me about free healthcare at this hospital.”

The CAR Humanitarian Fund supported NGO Doctors with Africa to offer malaria treatment and other free health services. Christel was able to receive free treatment, and his mother got more information on preventing malaria.  And, to help even more people, with the support of the World Health Organization, CAR has begun introducing malaria vaccines into the national immunization programme.

More information on the CAR Humanitarian Fund:

Original Story (OCHA CAR-FRENCH)