The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health crisis of global scale. Since early 2020, it has put tremendous strain on healthcare systems, disrupted economies, and halted large parts of social life in many countries around the world.
In a race against the fast spreading virus and rapidly increasing patient numbers, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) scaled-up our global response from early January, committing substantial resources to both developing dedicated COVID-19 projects and maintaining essential healthcare in its existing programmes.
Since then, our teams have responded to the pandemic in countries all over the world. We have now released the first of a series of reports, Responding to COVID-19: Global accountability report 1, which covers our activities from March to May 2020.
In countries where robust health systems exist, MSF’s operational focus is in offering our expertise in handling complex emergencies and advising on public health approaches, taking pressure off overstretched health facilities, ensuring healthcare workers are protected, and caring for vulnerable populations. In conflict zones, in humanitarian crises and in low-resource settings with fragile health systems, our priority is to ensure medical teams are able to provide live-saving care and safely manage potential COVID-19 patients.
MSF’s focus also is on maintaining or adapting crucial medical activities such as treatment for HIV and tuberculosis patients, measles vaccination campaigns, malaria prevention, and the fight against other infectious disease outbreaks such as cholera or Ebola.
In March, MSF created the COVID-19 Crisis Fund, to raise urgently-needed funds for both our dedicated COVID-19 programmes and to mitigate potential severe impact on existing health services. The fund seeks to raise €150 million, which will be used to cover direct and indirect costs related to COVID-19 over the course of 2020 and 2021. By late July, just over €99 million had been raised.
This report is the first in a series of accountability reports and operational snapshots offering insight into:
- MSF’s global COVID-19 response;
- highlighting activities and outcomes;
- documenting expenditures; and
- shedding light on challenges faced in accessing and supplying communities with essential medicines and supplies.
Covering the period from March to May 2020 and tracing some earlier activities back to the beginning of the year, this report provides an account of how MSF projects around the globe have shifted gears to accelerate outbreak preparedness and adapt their projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (see Chapter 4). The fifth chapter looks at key data from MSF activities in Europe– the epicentre of the pandemic from March to late May. Chapter six then discusses MSF’s approach in managing the major staffing, logistics, supply, and financial challenges of responding to COVID-19.
The second report on MSF‘s global COVID-19 response is scheduled for publication in October and will cover activities from June to August. A third report will be released in early 2021, reviewing the remaining months of the year.