Treichville’s University Hospital: "Patients lie on the floor and blood bags are stuck to the walls"

 These photos were taken at the Treichville University Hospital (CHU), one of the main public hospitals in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast.  



These photos were taken at the Treichville University Hospital, one of the main public hospitals in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast.


This hospital was established in the Treichville neighbourhood of Abidjan in 1938. At first it was an annex of the central hospital in Plateau, the business district of Abidjan. It became a university hospital in 1976. The CHU (French acronym for  university hospital) is comprised of several departments, for both emergency services and consultations. According to its website, it has a capacity of 658 beds. In 2007, the hospital claims to have given more than 55,000 consultations and carried out almost 3,000 surgical operations.


However, a less flattering picture was painted by the local media last summer, when an inquiry was carried out into the CHU’s infectious diseases department. One newspaper reported that the hospital only had one ambulance at its disposal, and this ambulance was missing a flashing light and had only one functioning stretcher. Everyone agrees that the hospital’s facilities are old-fashioned and that the medical equipment is insufficient. 


On June 24, Alassane Ouattara, the president of the Rassemblement des républicains party (RDR), who is running in the second round of the presidential election on Nov. 28, lamented the obsolete equipment and poor-quality facilities during a visit to the hospital: “Sometimes there are more than 25 people in a room meant for 14.”


Faced with accusations of negligence, the hospital’s doctors retaliated by saying that families often bring their sick relatives in too late, after having consulted traditional doctors or attempted self-treatment, both of which can lead to complications. “We do what we can but we can’t always put the situation right. Please don’t accuse us of being in the wrong”, declared a young doctor from the infectious diseases department in June.


We contacted the directors of the CHU in Treichville, but we have yet to receive their comments.


Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Segolène Malterre.

"There’s only one doctor in the paediatric emergency department"

Yves Koba (Howan deparis) is a sales engineer in Abidjan. He took these photos in the paediatric emergency department of the Treichville University Hospital.

I went to the CHU for the first time in August, when my nephew had meningitis. When we arrived at the paediatric emergency department, it took a while to find someone in a white coat. In fact, there was only one doctor in the whole department. There was nobody at the entrance to decide whether or not a patient was seriously ill. Everybody was in the same boat, from the person with an acute case of malaria to the child who felt faint. The only thing that was said to us was 'It’s a two-hour wait or you can go to the clinic'.


The only doctor in the department is assisted by three people. The lack of staff is shocking. And it’s due to the fact that there’s no money. After their residency, the younger doctors prefer to go and work in private clinics where they are better paid.

But these clinics are prohibitively expensive for the average Ivory Coast citizen. Just to give you an idea: it would have cost 3 million West African CFA francs (€4,570) to treat my nephew in a clinic, compared to 90,000 West African CFA francs (€137) at the CHU in Treichville. I don’t want to tar all of the staff with the same brush, there are doctors there who do everything they can to help people.



Ivory Coast is not like France; there is no social security system. You are only reimbursed if you can afford health insurance or if you are a civil servant. But everybody else has to pay for everything. The most basic equipment is added to the bill, whether it is the beds, the syringes or the blood bags. In France, if a child is ill, staff do everything they can to treat him or her and the child’s parents are guaranteed to be reimbursed. Here, if the parents don’t pay, the children are put back in their beds, left in the corridor and no longer treated by the doctors.


 As we see in these images, the patients are crammed into the corridors. And the blood bags are stuck to the wall. None of the presidential candidates have really made public health a priority of their campaign. In terms of the election, it won’t bring in many votes; they prefer to promise the electorate jobs. However, it is vital that we enable doctors to do their job in a dignified environment and with decent material.


Despite everything, my nephew was lucky. He’s getting better and was able to leave the hospital