Burkina Faso is now experiencing one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in sub-Saharan Africa with outbreaks in nine of its 13 regions since the first person was confirmed with COVID-19 on March 9.
However, at the same time it is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, following the rapid deterioration of the security situation over the past two years. People living in the most affected regions, including the North, Centre-North and Sahel, experience acts of violence on an almost daily basis. More than 830,000 people have been displaced.
Providing basic healthcare for local and displaced communities is now becoming even more difficult.
MSF is preparing to support the health authorities’ COVID-19 response through a number of initiatives, including health promotion, staff training and strengthening the capacity of health facilities to manage and care for COVID-19 patients. This includes infection prevention and control measures and setting up isolation areas.
We are preparing to support case management in the capital Ouagadougou, where we have commenced construction of a dedicated 50-bed hospital centre for COVID-19 patients.
In Burkina Faso´s second-largest city Bobo Dioulasso, we have also started patient care in a dedicated facility.
A priority for MSF teams will be to continue our regular medical activities in Burkina Faso, while adapting to the new challenges created by the outbreak. In Fada N'Gourma in the East region, for example, the team had to temporarily suspend and reorganise a mass measles vaccination campaign due to new regulations about mass gatherings. The vaccination campaign will resume in the coming days.
In western Burkina Faso, an area already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, an MSF team has just completed a measles vaccination program in the Mouhoun province. More than 72,000 children under 10 years were vaccinated in Dedougou, and close to 37,000 children under 14 in Boromo.
It is important that preventive programs not be interrupted, even temporarily. MSF is advocating to all stakeholders in Burkina Faso that the COVID-19 response be integrated with other major health programs such as for measles, malaria and malnutrition. If people’s basic needs are not met due to the COVID-19 response, this could lead to a new phase of emergencies.