Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sparing a thought for less fortunate friends

Although this blog was created with the intention of sharing with you my adventures in Switzerland, reading the news this morning made me want to tell you about a place far far away.

I have been very fortunate to have worked and travelled rather extensively in Africa. I spent some time in the Côte d'Ivoire last year teaching at one of the universities in Abidjan. Côte d'Ivoire has been in the news quite frequently in the last few months, following the presidential elections earlier this year which have re-ignated some of the tensions which date back from the civil war between 2002 and 2007.

Whilst two men are fighting for the country's presidency, at least 800 people have been killed in the western city of Duekoue this week as a result of ethnic violence.

One of the highlights of my stay in Côte d'Ivoire was the visit of the Taabo district, central Côte d’Ivoire. Taabo district is one of several Demographic Surveillance System set up by the World Health Organisation to contribute essential data on health dynamics supplemented with demographic, social and economic data. The DSS site in Taabo provides a platform for research on the prevalence of anaemia, malaria, helminths infection and iron deficiency as well as the impact of health intervention programme. This programme is partly sponsored by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (part of the University of there is a Swiss connection!)

We received a very warm welcome in all the villages we visited in the Taabo district

I did not quite love the food as much as I did the people. I was brave enough to try eating cane rat (a gourmet delicacy in Côte d'Ivoire ) although I stayed clear of the giant snail soup...

I would just like to dedicate this post and spare a thought for my Ivorian colleagues and their families in these troubled times...

Just like the message at the back of this Ivorian minibus: "Good luck and God bless".

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