We’re supporting healthcare workers
Healthcare staff have a much greater risk of contracting the virus than people not working in the healthcare sector. MSF is committed to ensuring safety for healthcare workers is the top priority in every healthcare facility we work in.
Our teams are working together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and local Ministries of Health to oversee infection prevention and control measures, setting up COVID-19 screening points, isolating patients with any symptoms, and health education in the local areas. These measures help ensure that both staff and communities are as protected as possible during the pandemic.
We’re helping vulnerable communities
The COVID-19 pandemic places those living in uncertain conditions at higher risk. People living in overcrowded accommodation, on the streets, in refugee camps, or in substandard housing are at particular risk. They are unable to physically distance themselves due to their living environments, and may lack access to clean water and sanitation services that would allow them to keep themselves safe through regular handwashing and other hygienic measures.
Many of those at risk are already in poor health and excluded from the formal healthcare system. Without the option for physical distancing, MSF teams must find other ways to help people keep themselves protected. These methods include mass distributions of soap, clean water, and, in carefully considered circumstances, reusable cloth masks.
We're keeping essential medical services running
Fragile health systems can quickly collapse under the intense pressure that comes with an epidemic and the many people who may fall ill. With only limited health staff and weak infrastructure to support them, regular and essential services are at risk when they are needed the most. If healthcare falters, common childhood killers like measles, malaria and diarrhoea, go untreated.
To better prepare the hundreds of health facilities MSF works in around the world and prevent transmission of COVID-19, our teams have been rolling out infection control measures and reorganising our medical services. Consultations have been adjusted to maintain safe distances between patients, and hospital wards have been redesigned to allow more space between each bed. Separate patient pathways have been established to divert people with suspected COVID-19 away from other patients.
Preserving access to healthcare, both for COVID-19 patients as well as all others, is our paramount concern. Despite these current constraints, all MSF teams are striving to find ways to keep our lifesaving medical work running despite the serious challenges this pandemic is presenting.
We're advocating for access to a COVID-19 vaccine
MSF advocates strongly for access to essential medical tools to all, at an affordable cost. We now have a new virus and disease, in the form of COVID-19, requiring the development of new tools, such as drugs, tests and vaccines. It is important that there should be no profiteering on any emerging medical tools used for this pandemic; a COVID-19 vaccine, for example, should be available to everyone. High prices and monopolies of tools will only result in rationing and certain people missing out, which will prolong the pandemic.
Governments, pharmaceutical corporations, and research organisations need to take the necessary measures to ensure that the medical tools urgently needed for COVID-19 are accessible, affordable, and available to all. Once approved or available, tools must be prioritised for healthcare and frontline workers first, and then supplied based on equity and need.