PARIS/NEW YORK, March 19, 2020—This week, the international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), will expand its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and begin providing assistance in Paris and the surrounding region to help the strengthen France’s health authorities’ capacity to prevent and treat cases.
MSF’s activities will focus on vulnerable communities including migrants, the homeless, and unaccompanied minors, who are often forced to live in unsanitary conditions in substandard housing or in overcrowded, makeshift encampments. These living conditions not only foster the spread of the virus but cause poor health for the people living there—many of whom are excluded from the health care system.
“In the context of the coronavirus epidemic, we are particularly concerned about the fate of people in precarious situations," explains MSF’s Deputy Operations Director Pierre Mendiharat. “If nothing is done to detect and isolate cases, the disease risks spreading among [these groups] particularly quickly.”
MSF teams are finalizing the details of the response with partner medical and social service groups and the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency, but plans include mobile consultations and screenings to reach the most vulnerable people and support with diagnosis, isolation, and case management in existing and new shelters.
MSF teams continue to deliver medical care in over 60 countries around the world. But our ability to provide much-needed assistance is under threat as travel restrictions and constraints on the movement of people and supplies increase.
In France, MSF helps to provide support and shelter to unaccompanied minors in Paris and the surrounding area, Marseille, and other regions of France. At the Porte d'Aubervilliers camp in Paris, where about 2,000 people are forced to live in inhumane conditions, MSF provides services through a mobile clinic once a week.