The Central African Republic (CAR) remains one of the largest protracted humanitarian crises. In 2020, the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for CAR stated that access to food, water and health were the three priority needs reported by affected communities.
Conflict and displacement affect access to routine healthcare as health services are often attacked by armed groups. Other times they are left abandoned as people flee violence. In 2019, 237 (39%) structures were partially or totally destroyed due to conflict.
Life in rural areas also can affect ability to access basic health care. This in part contributes to the high maternal mortality rates seen as there is inadequate or no consultations for pregnant women. Lack of access to healthcare also affects the treatment of malaria; the leading cause of death for children under 5 in the country.
Due to the support of Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA – former OFDA), the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO – former DFID), Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) and UNICEF as well as the effort of the in-country staff we are able to provide access to community health consultations, health and sanitation education, treatment for malaria and common childhood communicable diseases and antinatal care through both community health workers, female focal points and health facilities. In 2020 we supported over 1 million beneficiaries across the subprefectures of Batangafo, Koui, Ngaoundaye, Paoua, Bocoranga, Nana Bakassa, Nangha Bouguila and Markounda.
Mid 2020 an evaluation into community satisfaction with programme delivery was carried out with focus groups containing; community leaders, village chiefs, religious figures, public opinion leaders and heads of youth groups and women’s groups.
When asked about their communities’ overall satisfaction with Community Health Workers (CHWs) performance, the community leaders and women’s groups activists in particular expressed great appreciation for the CHWs and the work they do at all times of day, especially for women and children. On behalf of their communities, they expressed their gratitude for the support offered by the CHWs and the impact this has had throughout the year.
When asked whether they would like their CHWs to continue in their capacity as health agents, the representatives confirmed that MENTOR CHWs are the only health lifeline many of their villages have, particularly in the Ngaoundaye subprefecture. They urged MENTOR to maintain the presence of CHWs in these communities and if possible, to expand their current network. One interviewee added that a particularly well-received IEC campaign had been conducted by CHWs as part of their awareness-raising sessions on COVID-19, as prior to that, communities had not been as informed about the virus and its modes of transmission or how to protect themselves from infection until these sessions were carried out.
The Year Ahead
COVID-19 is a context changer as it complicates programme delivery in terms of logistics, and at times implementation. However, we remain resolute in our mission to work side by side with communities to save lives in emergencies and, with the support of our donors we will continue to deliver essential healthcare.