Foreword by the Resident Coordinator
Madagascar—which has one of the highest cyclone risks in Africa and is extremely vulnerable to climate change —is regularly impacted by epidemics, which are often endemic to the country.
In the last five years, the country experienced two major epidemics in two successive years: pneumonic plague in 2017 and measles in 2018. The loss of human life has been enormous, reaching around 1,400 deaths.
The plague outbreak has affected the country's economy, especially the tourism and transport sectors.
While the country has been able to draw lessons learned and many good practices from the response to these outbreaks, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic posed a number of major challenges, as this is not an usual outbreak endemic to the country, but rather a virus imported from abroad.
As soon as the existence of the coronavirus was announced in China, preparations were initiated at country-level, including through: the revision of the national contingency plan; the strengthening of control at all international entry points; and the routing of necessary drugs and supplies to these points.
Flights to and from China were suspended since 10 February 2020, although this was a very difficult decision to take given the importance of trade relations between the two countries. As a result, even though the country had not yet experienced COVID-19 cases, socio-economic consequences have been felt since then.
Within a few weeks, all neighbouring countries were affected by the coronavirus, and Madagascar confirmed its first case on 20 March.
Unfortunately, given the structural fragility of the country's health system and the existence of aggravating factors such as very precarious water, hygiene and sanitation conditions, COVID-19 was able to spread rapidly. As of 25 May, 542 COVID-19 cases, including two deaths, have been reported, most of them in Toamasina and Antananarivo cities.
Based on the experiences of previous epidemics:
• on one hand, community cases are difficult to control in Madagascar and have been the primary source of death cases, as the surveillance system is weak, and the delivery of samples is very difficult and time-consuming;
• on the other hand, the financial capacity of the country is very limited to meet all the needs, as 80 per cent of the annual state budget still comes from budgetary support allocated by partners.
For example, the requirements for the plague epidemic in 2017 were only US$13 million, a large part of which had to be funded by partners.
For the requirements of COVID-19 in particular, the budget for the immediate emergency response alone amounts to $132 million, this does not yet include the financial needs for social protection and recovery, which is being finalized through a socioeconomic plan.
For low income countries, such as Madagascar, it is imperative to control this outbreak as soon as possible because its socio-economic consequences will be catastrophic; the Ministry in charge of the Economy is already forecasting a huge reduction in economic growth for 2020, ranging from 5.5 per cent initially planned to only 1.5 per cent projected.
Within this context, I am launching this Emergency Appeal for $82.26 million to enable aid actors in Madagascar to contribute to the most urgent needs, both to save lives and to rapidly contain this epidemic in order to limit its disastrous socio-economic consequences.
Pr. Charlotte Faty NDIAYE
UN Resident Coordinator a.i
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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