Patients treated in the outpatient clinic
In 2013, the Central African Republic was overwhelmed by fighting following a coup d’etat.
At that time, a fifth of the population left their homes and poured into the capital Bangui and neighbouring Countries. The coup destroyed the Country and had a devastating impact on the already extremely poor health system. Most health workers left the Central African Republic, fleeing military violence and the ransacking of medical facilities. As we continued our work in the Paediatric Centre, we came across empty hospitals, devoid of equipment, medicine and staff.
Confronted with this serious emergency, we straight away made ourselves available to the local health authorities and began working with the city’s only children’s hospital. The Complexe Pédiatrique de Bangui (CPB) had 45 bed spaces, two paediatricians and two surgeons, who were the only paediatric surgeons in the Central African Republic.
Despite being the national point of referral for paediatric surgery, the hospital was decrepit. Our involvement therefore included a restructuring of the surgery department and wards. Our surgical team got to work immediately.
From a state of emergency to emergency surgery
After the disturbances, which included the widespread use of machetes, we began to broaden the criteria for admission to general surgery, traumatology and orthopedic surgery, renovating the surgical department and wards, which were in a dilapidated condition.
Now we manage First Aid, the unit for visiting surgical outpatients and the Intensive Care Unit, post-Intensive Care Unit and Isolation Wards. We also offer support to the pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, laundry and general maintenance, to ensure service is free.
The Complexe Pédiatrique’s surgery department has become the national point of referral. Other hospitals and humanitarian organisations refer their most serious and complicated surgical cases here; around 20% of patients treated in the surgery ward arrive from other facilities. This hospital is even more important to the central African health system as a whole.
In the light of the results obtained at the Emergency Surgery department, the hospital management has asked us to further engage in the management of the medical and training activities of the facility. In addition to the ongoing activities, we continued with the restructuring and increased our involvement in the paediatric activities of the facility.
Today we see more than 3,000 patients each month at the outpatient department at the Complexe Pédiatrique. 75% of them are under five years old and most suffer from malaria and respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders.
An ever more important committment
EMERGENCY also manages the emergency room, the block for medical and surgical outpatient visits, and the intensive care units, post-intensive care and isolation. We also provide support to pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, laundry and maintenance services to ensure free service.
Training: rebuilding local skills
In agreement with the University of Bangui and the Red Cross’s Institute for Paramedical Training, EMERGENCY is also engaged in training students of medicine and nursing who work at the Complexe Pédiatrique for their practical internship. As part of this collaboration, training activities have been extended to the Paediatric Centre.
Training activities are a key component of our work in all projects. They are especially important in the Central African Republic, where the doctor-to-population ratio is 1 to 100,000, and the need for local development and capacity building projects is increasingly urgent.
The reopening of the local blood bank
At the request of the World Health Organization, we collaborated on the reopening of the Bangui Blood Bank in 2015, which had suffered great difficulties due to the conflict. Two EMERGENCY lab techinicians have trained local staff on the use of new machines and have reorganized blood collection and distribution campaigns: blood is now available in all hospitals, with greater guarantees of its quality and safety.