Three months after the presidential elections designed to end a decade-long civil crisis, Côte d'Ivoire has plunged into a political crisis few imagined possible. As the crisis continues, Alliance Nationale contre le SIDA en Côte d'Ivoire (ANS-CI), warns that if HIV treatment runs out more people will die.
Since the elections in December, the escalation of violence in the country has had a continuing negative impact on the HIV response in Côte d'Ivoire (the country with the highest HIV prevalence in West Africa).
The key issues facing ANS-CI (and their partners) include:
no access to funding to continue their activities on the ground due to the closure of some private and international banks.
significant increase in the cost of living, with people struggling to buy basic food and other supplies
limited access to medicines in the health system due to lack of supplies. It is predicted that antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV could only be available for the next 2-3 weeks.
closure of the main ANS-CI office in Abidjan, due to the fighting.
"The situation is very serious. Many of our programmes are suspended because of the violence" says Dr Sosthene Dougrou, Executive Director of ANS-CI.
Impact on Alliance activities
A significant part of ANS-CI activity is funded through the US government and the in-country team has advised all partners to prioritise activities which have a direct impact on people's lives. As a result ANS-CI is focusing on the implementation of its care and support activities.
However, with no access to cash, ANS-CI is already finding it difficult to maintain even basic programme implementation and operations.
They are still managing to run some HIV/AIDS counselling and testing services in the quieter parts of the country. But services providing home based care and supporting orphaned and vulnerable children have had to stop as Ivoirians are staying at home because of the fighting.
Dr Dougrou said "We know what needs to be done and can respond quicker than international NGOs once the violence subsides but unless we can get more ARVs into the country we are going to see people dying, which will add unnecessary misery to this humanitarian crisis."
World Bank and Global Fund programmes on hold
The World Bank programme has been interrupted following their decision to stop all activities in Côte d'Ivoire until further notice. Disbursements of Global Fund Round 9 (for which ANS-CI is the Principal Recipient) have been frozen.
Alliance secretariat support
The Alliance secretariat in the UK continues to support ANS-CI in order to try to mitigate the impact of the crisis and respond to these emergencies.
We are providing regular updates for all funders to make them aware of the projected level of operations by ANS-CI. Discussions have included an ongoing analysis of the situation, particularly with a view to seeking alternative solutions on how to make funds available in-country.
The needs of people living with HIV, especially those receiving life-saving treatment, remain paramount as we continue to monitor the situation and support our colleagues in Côte d-Ivoire.