A hundred kilometres east of Abidjan, in Côte d'Ivoire, this ambulance boat is a game changer.
It started operations in early June. The lagoon winds between the villages of the commune of Assinie-Mafia.
Out of 16 villages bordering the body of water, the majority was cut off from access to emergency care.
"We observed that more that 14 villages bordering the lagoon already had access difficulties in terms of travel, Hippolyte Ebagnitchie explains.
"The health centers, which are based in Assini-Mafia and Asswindé and which are equipped with the highest technical platforms, were far away from these villages. By boat or local craft it took between an hour and a half or two hours to get there. "
First in Côte d'Ivoire
The 76,000-euro ambulance boat was funded by Assinie's city council.
On board, essential equipments such as oxygen, a defibrillator and a heart monitor can be found.
The boat is equipped with four beds and can transport several health professionals and relatives of a patient.
Assinie's chief medical officer rejoices over this service free of charge.
"In case of emergency, you would first need to find a canoe that was available, which was not dedicated to another use, you see that it took time to fiund such canoe," Athanase Ané Assalé says.
"So that would delay the evacuation. Then there was also the problem of the price, you had to negotiate that cost. Bearing in mind that once you've secured a journey that's all that is, there’s no medical staff on the canoe. "
The country boasts over 500 km of coastline and several lagoons. Assinie residents happily welcomed the first fully equipped ambulance boat in Côte d'Ivoire.
"You can be treated while en route to the hospital. So we are very happy, Cathérine Djako shared. "Especially women, those who are pregnant, who face complications, need to be evacuated or operated on ... It is a source of joy for us"
The boat-ambulance named "My health" in essouma language is entirely made in Côte d'Ivoire. As the mayor awaits feedback, he contemplates commissioning a second one.