Management Sciences for Health Responds to Unprecedented Measles Outbreak in Madagascar
Arlington, VA—Management Sciences for Health (MSH), a nonprofit global health organization, has joined forces with the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) to combat an unprecedented measles outbreak with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Since October 2018, the outbreak has infected approximately 140,000 people and claimed the lives of 1,250 Malagasies, including more than 650 children.
“MSH is committed to strengthening Madagascar’s health system in partnership with the national government and local communities,” said Marian W. Wentworth, MSH’s President and CEO. “We are focusing on saving lives immediately and on putting measures in place to prevent measles from making a comeback. These include a national prevention plan, improved vaccine distribution, and health worker training.”
The MOPH organized a response plan and mobilized partners to help implement priority response efforts, including a series of nationwide vaccination campaigns. The MSH-led ACCESS program (Madagascar’s Accessible Continuum of Care and Essential Services Sustained Activity), which supports Madagascar’s journey toward a stronger health system, is working with the MOPH on the technical, operational, and financial implementation of its response plan.
Through ACCESS, MSH and its partners have provided logistical support and transportation for vaccination campaigns in 67 districts and funded their operational costs, including transportation compensation. They have also assisted the MOPH to develop and implement print and radio awareness campaigns that emphasize prevention messages and the importance of vaccination and treatment and have sharpened the social media capability of the Ministry to more accurately respond to citizens’ concerns about measles prevention and treatment.
MSH and its partners have supported case management training for front line health care providers, assisted in the development of an epidemic preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation plan, and contributed to national-level efforts to manage the supply chain for measles commodities by collecting and sharing data regarding measles cases and vaccine stock levels.
A combination of factors have contributed to the outbreak, including poverty; hygiene and sanitation challenges; a weak health infrastructure; and a poor system for routine vaccination, which has led to low vaccination rates. A recent study points to low immunity levels from inadequate vaccination coverage. Poverty, which affects an estimated 70% of the population, plays a major role, as a second-dose booster shot costs $15 at a clinic. In addition, Madagascar has the highest proportion of malnutrition among children under five (47%) in the African region, which can increase the risk of serious complications and death from measles infection.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains a significant cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
More information about measles is available on the WHO website.
USAID Madagascar’s Accessible Continuum of Care and Essential Services Sustained (ACCESS) Activity is a USAID/Madagascar-funded cooperative agreement that aims to accelerate sustainable health impacts for the Malagasy people by focusing on three main objectives: Quality health services are sustainably available and accessible to all Malagasy communities in the regions where the program works; health systems function effectively to support quality service delivery; and Malagasy people sustainably adopt healthy behaviors and social norms. The Activity is working to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health to more effectively design, implement, monitor and evaluate its health programs in 13 regions of the country, serving approximately 16 million people. ACCESS provides family planning and reproductive health services in the regions of Vakinakaratra, Amoron’i Mania, and Haute Matsiatra. ACCESS is being implemented with a number of partner organizations, including ACOG Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, Action Socio-Sanitaire Organisation Secours, Catholic Relief Services, Dimagi, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, and Stony Brook University Global Health Institute. More information is available on the MSH website.
About USAID Madagascar
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is the US Government’s preeminent foreign assistance agency. USAID Madagascar officially opened its field office in September of 1984. In 2018, USAID provided approximately $80 million in development assistance plus $24.5 million in emergency assistance to the Malagasy people, with programs that include investments in health, food security, environment, and governance programs. For more information on USAID Madagascar and our projects, visit www.usaid.gov/madagascar.