Read more about our recent response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
The Republic of Mali is a landlocked nation in West Africa and home to the famed ancient city of Timbuktu. In the golden age in the 1300s, Mali flourished as a regional trading empire that drew scholars in mathematics, literature, and art. Mali was colonized by the French in the late 19th century and did not claim independence until 1960. The country was then under a one-party dictatorship until a military coup ushered in a period of democratic rule that led to the country’s first democratic elections in 1992. However, rebel groups continued to stage uprisings in the north of the country. In 2012, another coup ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure, effectively splitting the country in two, with armed Islamists controlling the northern areas of Gao, Kidal, and Timbuktu. Violence in 2012 forced huge numbers of people to flee their homes, making millions of Malians vulnerable to malnutrition, epidemics, and a lack of access to health care. The country became embroiled on the fringes of West Africa’s outbreak, the largest and deadliest in history, in October 2014 when a two-year-old traveled by bus from Guinea to Bamako. In total, eight people contracted Ebola in Mali, six of whom died.
International Medical Corps has worked in Mali since 2013 following political instability and a coup d’état which caused mass displacement and the disruption of many public systems including health care. The violence and insecurity in the north aggravated the already fragile health and nutritional conditions in the region and women and girls became increasingly exposed to acts of sexual violence. In response, International Medical Corps has been working with the most affected communities in Timbuktu and Gourma-Rharous districts in programs focused on health, nutrition, and protection.
When Ebola spread to Mali in 2014, International Medical Corps worked to equip Mali’s health care system to quickly detect, contain, and respond to potential Ebola and other infectious disease cases through training of health care workers and other professionals in medical level case management. Today, International Medical Corps is building on these efforts to strengthen Mali’s disease surveillance, information, and reporting systems for not just Ebola, but other infectious diseases with epidemic potential.