Attending a health centre was an “unattainable luxury” after the Batsirai and Emnati cyclones hit Madagascar’s south-eastern Vatovavy region in February 2022, cutting off any access to care for Toky Rabemaharo and his community.
The consequences were devastating: “I lost my wife, who was pregnant. Several other people in our community also died,” Rabemaharo says. “But today, thanks to mobile clinics that provide free care, we now have access again.”
Health services were restored
Since June 2022, 20 mobile clinics have been making daily rounds in hard-to-reach areas, enabling one million people to access curative health services in places where health facilities are no longer functional.
“The introduction of the mobile clinics enabled the restoration of health services, especially vaccination services, during the cyclone emergency. They have also covered areas that are usually inaccessible to health services, including isolated locations and villages,” says Dr Yasmine Laetitia Lydie, Secretary General of Madagascar’s Ministry of Health.
“The mobile clinics have made it possible to strengthen epidemiological surveillance, and so the detection and reporting of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases.” – Dr Yasmine Laetitia Lydie, Secretary General of Madagascar’s Ministry of Health.
Teams of two to three health professionals have been trained to travel with their medical equipment from village to village by car, motorcycle, dugout canoe or on foot, depending on the accessibility challenges.
To avert a repeat of the destruction of medicines during the 2022 cyclone season, WHO also built a storage warehouse in Manakara to serve the three regions of the greater south-east. The Organization also provided health kits with medicines for malaria and diarrhoeal diseases, among others.
Strides towards resilient health systems
In addition, the Organization helped deploy epidemiologists to each of the country’s 23 regions, establishing a data collection system to monitor diseases with epidemic potential. The digitization of the disease reporting system has enabled real-time monitoring of the health situation, enabling more rapid responses from health authorities.
“Through all of this support, we have made strides towards our objective of strengthening the country’s health system to make it more resilient in cases of emergency, such as during cyclones,” says Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative to Madagascar. “Above all, we remain committed to improving primary health care structures that serve the local population.”
This year, despite the torrential rains and extensive cyclone-related flooding, no cases of diseases such as cholera were recorded in the country.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Madagascar.