Coronavirus has disrupted health services, thus reducing attention and support for basic health services. In Madagascar, as elsewhere in the world, interventions remain focused on the response to COVID-19.
Indeed, in countries with already fragile health systems, COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains for medical supplies and is putting pressure on financial and human resources. Lockdowns, curfews, disruption of transportation, and communities' ongoing fear of getting infected result in drop in attendance at health centers. However, children in Madagascar as elsewhere suffer and more often die from familiar diseases (diarrhea, respiratory diseases, malaria, measles, etc.) than from COVID-19.
It is against this background that UNICEF, in regular support to the Malagasy population, keeps on working hand in hand with the Ministry of Public Health to continue with health services relating to the survival and well-being of women, children and families during the pandemic.
Thus, 7,746,820 doses of vaccines have been dispatched throughout the country to cover routine immunization needs for the next five months. Moreover, around 675,000 newborns will benefit from umbilical cord care all over Madagascar through the supply of chlorhexidine. More than 80 health facilities are provided with materials, equipment and medicines to take care of 30,000 pregnant women for their prenatal and postnatal consultations and childbirth as well as to ensure the health of 15,000 adolescents. Medicines have been forwarded to basic health centers in order to cover the care of 28,000 cases of acute respiratory infection, 40,000 cases of diarrhea and 50,000 cases of malaria in children under 5 years old.
These donations come within the framework of the implementation of the plan for the continuity of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (RMNCAH-N), particularly for the most vulnerable in 49 priority districts. This plan will be implemented from August 2020 to January 2021 and more than two million dollars will be mobilized for this purpose. More targeted support for children under the age of five is provided to eight districts of three regions (Anosy, Androy and Betsiboka) with the worst maternal and child health indicators and where drought is rife (Anosy and Androy).
Furthermore, UNICEF – in partnership with GAVI – provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (mask, gown, gloves, helmet, plastic protective clothings) for a total value of over USD 375,000 to the Ministry of Health. The equiment is meant for health workers to allow them to continue with immunization services in four regions (Analamanga, Atsinanana, Aloatra Mangoro and Analanjirofo) in the COVID-19 context.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Madagascar.