MSF’s mobile clinics in Beira, an area hard hit by Cyclone Idai. Mozambique, March 2019


Two tropical cyclones hit Mozambique between March and April 2019, with devastating consequences for a country already facing considerable health challenges.

In addition to supporting the emergency response to these natural disasters, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continued to run regular projects providing care for HIV and tuberculosis (TB), a dual epidemic affecting a large proportion of the population: an estimated 2.2 million Mozambicans are living with HIV, and 34,000 of them are co-infected with tuberculosis (TB).

Responding to natural disasters

On 15 March, Cyclone Idai hit Beira in Sofala province, affecting some 1.85 million people. Homes, health facilities and other infrastructure were destroyed by the cyclone and subsequent flooding and more than 400,000 people were displaced. We deployed emergency teams to support the response and, 10 days later, a cholera outbreak was declared. As well as managing 57 percent of cholera patients, we supported the Ministry of Health to vaccinate 900,000 people against the disease, set up two water treatment plants, rehabilitated 18 health centres and distributed relief items, such as soap, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, blankets, mats and buckets. In total, we conducted nearly 11,900 outpatient consultations, primarily for malnutrition and malaria, in 25 locations.

Six weeks later, when Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in Cabo Delgado province, we built cholera treatment centres in Pemba, Mecufi and Metuge, carried out water and sanitation activities and conducted general health consultations. The catastrophic impact of two cyclones in such a short space of time was compounded by months of drought later in the year. Together they exacerbated the already serious food insecurity and malnutrition situation in the country.

Woman fetching water at a water reservoir in front of a damaged school on Matemo Island

MSF in Mozambique in 2019

MSF provided an emergency response following cyclone Idai and have moved teams to Cabo Delgado to start response activities in several localities of the province. They joined a small MSF team already present in Pemba who had started working on water and sanitation activities there in February 2019. Together, they started to rapidly assess the scale and nature of needs in several areas affected by Cyclone Kenneth.

Fighting the dual HIV/TB epidemic

In the capital, Maputo, we are implementing specialized care and support packages for patients with advanced HIV who are facing the challenge of staying on lifelong treatment or have developed drug resistance. This includes improving the detection and rapid treatment of opportunistic infections.

In Mafalala slum, we work with a local organization to run a drop-in centre for people who use drugs, where testing and treatment for HIV, TB, and hepatitis C are available. It is the only program in Mozambique offering comprehensive harm reduction services, including needle and syringe distribution.  

In Beira, MSF runs mobile clinics providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including HIV testing, counselling and family planning to vulnerable groups such as sex workers, who are at high risk of HIV infection. In 2019, we started offering advanced HIV care at Beira central hospital.

Delivering healthcare in conflict areas

In Cabo Delgado, access to healthcare is extremely limited due to violence and insecurity. In 2019, we started supporting a health centre in Macomia, with treatment for malaria, malnutrition, and respiratory diseases. We also rehabilitated the centre, which was severely damaged by Cyclone Kenneth, ran training on maternal health, pediatrics, and sexual and reproductive healthcare for the Ministry of Health staff, and upgraded the water supply system.

No. staff in 2019: 446 | Expenditure in 2019: €19.8 million Year MSF first worked in the country: 1984

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