© Aurelie Baumel/MSF
19 Mar 20 19 Mar 20

As COVID-19 continues to spread, MSF prepares for action in France

Faced with the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, the French health system is strengthening its capacity to prevent and treat cases. This week, in consultation with France’s health authorities, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is setting up activities to help detect and manage COVID-19 cases among the most vulnerable populations in Paris and the surrounding region.

People in precarious situations, such as migrants, the homeless and unaccompanied minors, are particularly vulnerable to the epidemic. Whether they live in substandard housing or in overcrowded, makeshift encampments, unsanitary environments like these foster the spread of the virus among people excluded from health care systems often in poor health brought on by their living conditions.

Reaching the most vulnerable 

“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 them particularly quickly. And all the more so, as these people who live on the margins of services available to the general population can be difficult to reach.”

MSF teams are currently working out the details of their activities with partner medico-social associations and the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency. They are to include mobile consultations and screening to be able to reach out to the most vulnerable, and support with diagnosis, isolation and case management in both existing and prospective shelters.

"Our contribution in France is part of initiatives MSF has already launched in other countries, Italy, for example, and those our teams may develop in the weeks to come in countries where we already had projects before COVID-19 broke out," continues Pierre Mendiharat.

Medical care in spite of restrictions 

MSF teams are also continuing to deliver medical care around the world, although this assistance is under threat in many places due to the imposition of travel restrictions and constraints on the movement of people and goods.

MSF provides assistance in 60 countries across the world. In France, MSF organises initiatives to help provide support and shelter to unaccompanied minors in Paris and the surrounding area, Marseille and other regions of France.

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