Making Progress for Mothers in Cote d’Ivoire

A World AIDS Day ceremony in 2011 in Cote d'Ivoire honoring and remembering those who lost their lives to AIDS.


This May, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Save the Children released their 14th annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. The report measures the best and worst places to be a mother by looking at various indicators relating to maternal health, children’s well-being, income, educational status, and political status. Two EGPAF countries – Democratic Republic of the Congo (ranked #176) and Cote d’Ivoire (ranked #167) – placed in the bottom ten countries on the matrix.

In Democratic Republic of Congo, political instability and ongoing war have contributed to extremely challenging conditions for women and children, especially those living with HIV. And in Cote d’Ivoire, two civil wars over the last decade have left health systems in shambles. One in thirty women in DRC and one in fifty three women in Cote d’Ivoire will die during childbirth. In DRC, the worst place to be a mother, 167.7 in every 1,000 children will die before they reach the age of 5. A woman in Cote d’Ivoire can only expect that her child will have 6.6 years of schooling; however, they can expect to make almost 5 times more per year ($1,090) than their DRC counterparts, who can expect an extra two years at school (8.5 years) but only to $190 per year during their lifetime.

But the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation has made important steps in both countries to make pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood safer for women, particularly women living with HIV. EGPAF has been a presence in Cote d’Ivoire since 2004, and opened offices in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011.  In Democratic Republic of Congo, EGPAF has tested nearly 700,000 women for HIV,  and provided prevention of mother-to-child transmission services to thousands more. In Cote d’Ivoire, EGPAF is developing an innovative pilot program to address issues of maternal and child health. The proposed pilot site will offer more comprehensive and integrated services for women, children, and families over the next year, with the aim of scaling up this initiative to more sites in coming years or under other funding opportunities. EGPAF and its partners are committed to erasing gaps in maternal and child health in Cote d’Ivoire.

In Cote d’Ivoire and Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are considerable obstacles to achieving better outcomes for women and children, especially those living with HIV. But EGPAF and its partners are up for the fight.

Jane Coaston is Media Relations Coordinator for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.