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MMC West Africa 4Mi COVID-19 Snapshot – September 2020 – Refugees’ and migrants’ access to health services in West Africa in times of COVID-19

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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had significant impacts on mobility within West Africa. This Snapshot is the second in a series that documents the phenomenon in West Africa through an adapted version of MMC’s regular 4Mi data collection carried out in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. It provides insight into access to healthcare, of the scale of testing for COVID-19, and precautions being taken among people on the move.

Key messages and recommendations

  • Lack of funds constitute the primary barrier to health services among respondents.

  • Wearing a mask and regular handwashing are the predominant ways migrants and refugees in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are protecting themselves against COVID-19.

  • A gender-specific approach could be useful in some forms of outreach: women indicated having a harder time social distancing due to their living situation than men (39% vs 26%), while men reported worse access to health services (44% of men vs 55% of women said they could access health services).

  • 17% of respondents are not taking precautions against COVID-19, and many of these say they do not have access to protective gear (54% in Burkina Faso, 42% in Niger and 39% in Mali).

  • Information could be improved: of the 17% of respondents who reported not taking precautions against COVID-19, 47% in Niger said they did not feel it was necessary, as did 42% in Burkina Faso and 37% in Mali. Lack of clarity on where to go for healthcare, or on recommendations for testing and treatment were also important barriers to accessing healthcare.

  • Testing was reportedly quite varied: 10% of respondents in Niger said they had been tested, 5% in Burkina Faso and only 2% in Mali.