Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are racing to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in the more than 70 countries where we run existing programs, while opening projects in new countries as they become outbreak hotspots.
MSF’s response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, focuses on three main priorities: Supporting health authorities to provide care for patients with COVID-19, protecting people who are vulnerable and at-risk, and keeping essential medical services running.
Across our projects, MSF teams are improving infection prevention and control (IPC) measures to protect patients and staff and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Strengthening IPC measures is absolutely crucial to protect health workers and patients, both in COVID-19 care centers and in all other facilities providing vital health services, in order to avoid amplifying the pandemic or being forced to shut down.
Health systems worldwide are in urgent need of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that essential medical services can stay open. The global shortage of PPE is the reality for health workers in most countries where we work, who routinely face shortages of crucial items such as masks, aprons, and testing equipment. Reliable access to protective equipment, to COVID-19 tests, to oxygen, and to drugs for supportive care will only become more urgent as COVID-19 spreads in countries with little access to medical tools.
Caring for patients with COVID-19
In the US and Europe, which are currently the epicenters of the pandemic, MSF’s response focuses on improving care for the most vulnerable and at-risk communities, such as elderly people in nursing homes, homeless people, and migrants living in precarious circumstances. Among these groups, mortality rates have sometimes reached extraordinary and shocking levels.