Since the end of March, MSF mobile clinics have been criss-crossing the hardest hit areas in Madagascar, to treat malnourished children and distribute food rations. The teams have been visiting particularly remote and impoverished villages and responding to alerts sent by local health authorities. 300 tons of food have already been distributed, and another 750 tons are expected to be distributed by October. In addition to the ongoing water distribution to 30,000 people, new wells and boreholes are planned. About 100 patients were hospitalized in June and July in a dedicated facility built and managed by MSF within the Ambovombe Hospital. This intensive treatment center for malnutrition has already been forced to close.
Even though Madagascar had closed its borders since March 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19 into the country, MSF received special authorizations to bring in aid workers and resources to continue its medical humanitarian work. With the threat of the Delta variant, since July, the government is no longer granting special access for aid workers. MSF asks the Malagasy authorities to urgently grant entry visas and not put at risk the closure of these medical activities which employ 150 Malagasy staff.
“Travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic should not prevent relief organizations like ours from responding to other equally high priority crises,” said Bérengère Guais, MSF Emergency Manager. “As a medical organization, we understand the importance of prevention and control measures for COVID-19. We have put in place strict safety protocols for our staff and patients. This includes the systematic vaccination of all international staff working in Madagascar."
If MSF is not granted new entry visas, all projects will have to close and MSF will be forced to terminate the contracts of more than 150 Malagasy staff currently working to implement its emergency operations.