The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun distribution of mattresses to health facilities in northern Central African Republic (CAR), an official told IRIN on Tuesday.
"ICRC missions in May and June identified mattresses as among the urgent needs of health facilities," Bruno Legeard, the ICRC representative, said.
He said 180 mattresses, worth six million francs CFA (US $10,900), would be distributed over the next two weeks to health facilities in Damara, Bouca, Batangafo, Kabo, Ouham, Ouham Pende and Ombella Mpoko areas in the north.
Fighting between government and rebels troops between October 2002 and March 2003 adversely affected the health sector in the north and central part of the country. Equipment and drugs were looted and buildings were destroyed. The war ended on 15 March, when Francois Bozize overthrew President Ange-Felix Patasse.
To revamp health services in war affected areas, the EC Humanitarian Office and the European Development Fund disbursed €1.78 million ($2.04 million) in May.
An Italian NGO, Cooperzione Internazionale (COOPI), has been distributing drugs to health facilities in the north, where no immunisation campaigns have been organised for over a year due to lack of refrigeration. Legeard said the ICRC had ordered 10 freezers from Geneva, Switzerland, to be distributed in the north.
"We will coordinate our efforts with COOPI, which will also provide freezers," Legeard said.
In late July, the ICRC announced a $2.2-million water and medical programme to which Germany contributed $277,275 in early September.
Legeard said the ICRC gave six containers of water-purification chemicals last week to the state-owned water utility, Société de Distribution des Eaux en Centrafrique (Sodeca).
"Sodeca was facing an acute shortage of water chemicals and was forced to ration water," Legeard said.
Sodeca equipment was vandalised during the war, hampering its provision of safe drinking water in many towns. This situation contributed to the increase of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid that were recently reported in many towns.
Legeard said that apart from Bangui, the towns of Berberati and Carnot, 186 km and 281 km west of Bangui; Bouar and Bouzoum, 454 km and 384 km northwest of Bangui; Bossangoa, 305 km north of Bangui; and Bambari, 385 km northeast of Bangui, would benefit from the ICRC chemicals. He said Sodeca offices in each town would be re-equipped and old equipment would be replaced.
The ICRC programme, which also includes reunification of separated families especially among the 41,000 CAR refugees in southern Chad and the rehabilitation of the headquarters of the CAR Red Cross society, is scheduled to end in December.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions