In Côte d’Ivoire, where over 75% of the population is under 35, youth employment and health remain a major challenge. Since 2013, through support to the National Health Workers Training Institute (INFAS) and its network of regional branches, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has been contributing to turning this life force into quality human resources to improve the performance of the health system. Bouaké, the country’s second largest city, has one of these new types of incubator.

Wheelbarrows, bags of cement, the comings and goings of workers, but also the overhaul of training programs: there are works underway at the Bouaké INFAS. The objective: improve working and studying conditions on the site, as well as training for nurses, midwives and biomedical technicians in Côte d’Ivoire.

These two actions are part of a program launched in 2013, with AFD’s support, which had already previously built the pedagogical, management and administrative skills of the staff. Support is also being provided in the field of research (methodology, research techniques, production of scientific publications…).

The training programs are also being revised. “The program used to be made up of models. The models are now available in teaching units with lectures, tutorials and practical work”, says Sévérin Kramo, senior manager at the Bouaké INFAS. “In the field, the training notebook for student follow-up has also been revised to provide practical training that is more suited to improving patient care.”       

côte d'ivoire, health, AFD
côte d'ivoire, health, AFD
She has done it! Rebecca has just defended her final year dissertation. She will soon be a midwife, which she has always wanted. The passionate young woman would like to improve the often tarnished image of her future corporation.

Her final dissertation was, moreover, about the violence of healthcare workers towards users (patients, patients’ relatives…) with the aim of understanding the causes and proposing solutions.

Rebecca, whose future profession is a vocation for her, wants to discover every aspect of it: “In five years, I’d like to change specialty. I’ll continue in dermatology.”
côte d'ivoire, health
At just 26, Marie already has a good head on her shoulders: “I’ve always heard that because I was a woman, it wasn’t very important to have a job as I would get married and my husband would work. These are prejudices. I want to be seen as a resilient woman, a leader, a woman who can take care of herself. It’s important for me, but also for my sisters.”

To achieve her objectives, the law student dropped her first choice – law – and sat the entrance exam at INFAS in 2017. Like her mother before her, she wants to become a nurse, “to help others regain their health and stay on their feet”. The young women is currently in the second year of her undergraduate studies and her dream is on its way to coming true. She is already preparing the next stage: “I plan to work in a community center as close as possible to rural communities. They are the ones who need us most. After three years, I’ll enroll in a Master’s degree. My objective is a Ph.D. I want to go as far as possible”, she says confidently, although she prefers not to say anything about her future specialization.
côte d'ivoire, health

Nothing predestined Jérôme Touré for a career in the health sector. When the young man got his high school diploma, he dreamt of only one thing: to go to university, but his family was against it. He was reluctantly forced to drop his ambitions and opt for an advanced IT technician diploma. His specialty: coding.

After a few years doing a lot of low-paid or badly paid casual work, he decided to sit the INFAS entrance exam. The thirty year-old firstly saw it as a way to escape unemployment. During his training, the man who is now almost a nurse discovered a real passion for the profession. “At INFAS, I found myself where I wanted to be”, he says proudly. The training also gives him the opportunity of continuing to study at university.

Jérôme is more determined than ever to use his IT skills for the digitalization of INFAS, which has just been launched. He even intends to develop e-health applications. But for the time being, he is working on getting his diploma, an invaluable door opener.
Capacity building

Training cannot be effective without quality facilities for the students. Improving them is therefore a major focus of the program.

The school was built to receive a maximum of 240 students, i.e. 80 per training cycle. For the time being, only 200 can be accommodated on-site”, says Sévérin Kramo. “But our student numbers have been increasing over the years. In 2018 alone, we had 1,032 learners actually enrolled at all levels.

The school already had many needs and they have increased with the decade of crisis experienced by Côte d'Ivoire. The facilities remained closed throughout almost the entire period and have deteriorated. The same goes for the equipment.

Rehabilitation and extension works were consequently launched in early 2019. The construction should be completed in the first quarter of 2020, with the school’s capacity doubled.

In addition to the rehabilitation of existing facilities (boarding school, library, multipurpose buildings, administration, infirmary, canteen…), the program includes the construction of a 300-seat amphitheater, some twenty classrooms and tutorial and practical work rooms and a 580 m² central foyer. It will have a student center with shops, an ATM, a pharmacy… “We’ve come a long way. By next year, we’ll be working in satisfactory conditions”, the branch manager is already pleased to say.

Increase capacity- health - côte d'ivoire
The new building will have a student center with shops, an ATM, a pharmacy... © Jacques Kouao / AFD


Training in new health professions 

A new training cycle for health auxiliaries will be added to the INFAS program at the beginning of the next school year. For three years, 1,500 young people, aged between 18 and 30 with a health BEPC or CAP diploma and recruited via an entrance exam, will be trained as nursing auxiliaries, obstetrical auxiliaries, auxiliaries for sanitary techniques specialized in hygiene and sanitation, as well as in the activities of pharmacy dispenser and manager, medical biology and medical imaging. Health auxiliaries are key actors in the health system and provide daily assistance and care to patients. They handle the basic care and make their skills and human qualities available to patients. They are supervised by the qualified nursing staff (nurses, midwives, biomedical technicians).