Doctors, paramedics, nurses and a logistic group set off for Africa. The mission will last at least until March 6. – We have a difficult mission ahead of us – explains Dr. Woytek Wilk, head of the Polish medical team, who is already in Africa – because due to cyclones, almost all flights to Madagascar are suspended. We are flying a special plane from the capital of Kenya – Nairobi. Although two weeks have passed since the last Batsirai cyclone, we are in for a typical rescue operation, because another, fortunately weaker, cyclone is approaching Madagascar – he adds. – The first shift that will go to the island will include three doctors, rescuers and nurses – announces Woytek Wilk. In total, 13 people flew to Madagascar. – We take with us equipment that will allow us to self-sufficient aid on the spot, but also to supplement the shortages that medics in Madagascar are currently struggling with – he adds. The mission organizers emphasize that on-the-spot assistance to the people who have suffered from the cyclones will take place at the peak of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, which has not bypassed Madagascar.
– This is the first mission of the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM under the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism – says Dr. Wilk. – In addition to our Emergency Medical Team, in Madagascar there are support teams specializing in water treatment from France and Germany. The Ministry of Health of Madagascar has announced that the Polish medical team will provide aid in the most damaged region of the island, around the city of Nosy Varika of 40.000 inhabitants.
Cyclone Batsirai hit the island on February 5-6, 2022. Two weeks earlier the country was hit by cyclone Ana. The force of nature caused a flood, destroyed buildings, infrastructure, power lines. The wind was blowing at a speed of up to 235 km/h. It destroyed houses inhabited by over 90.000 people. Many people were injured and nearly 100 died because of this disaster. Many roads and bridges are still impassable, and it is difficult to get there with aid. That is why the PCPM Foundation decided to send the Emergency Medical Team – explains Dr. Wojciech Wilk, CEO of the foundation, who manages the team of Polish medics and who is already in Africa.
Madagascar is inhabited by almost 30 million people. This island country is one of the poorest countries in the world. Before the cyclone, it struggled with food shortages and long-lasting drought. Batsirai was the 2nd tropical cyclone that hit Madagascar within two weeks. Previously, the Ana cyclone caused death to 55 people and deprived another 130,000 of their homes.
Medics from the Polish Center for International Aid have already been on a mission in Madagascar in 2020, as part of expert assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, on behalf of the WHO.
The Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM has existed since 2015. It helped victims of the Nepal earthquake (2015), the mudslides in Peru (2017) and refugees from South Sudan on the border with Uganda (2018). These are just some of the missions of the first and the only Emergency Medical Team in Poland, as the last two years have been marked by the help of Polish medics in over a dozen COVID hospitals on three continents (from Italy to Gorno-Badakhshan, and Uganda). In 2019, the PCPM Emergency Medical Team received certification from the World Health Organization (WHO). The PCPM EMT is one of the top such teams in the world.