Although the Hodh Chargui region has not so far been severely affected by the pandemic (38 positive cases in total, of which 12 in the moughataa of Bassikounou and none registered at the Mbera camp to date), it remains one of Mauritania's most endangered areas, especially in the light of the future reopening of the borders.

The logistical constraints in the medicines and medical material supply chain, the distance from the capital and its hospitals, in addition to the lack of COVID-19 case management capacity in the already few existing health facilities in the Hodh Chargui expose the inhabitants of this area, including Malian refugees in Mbera camp, to the threat of the COVID-19.

At present, in the Hodh Chargui region there are only 6 beds available for COVID-19 patients:

  • 2 beds in Nema hospital, for severe cases in need of intensive care and reanimation equipment which is not available in the other health centres in the region;
  • 2 beds at Bassikounou Health Centre, and
  • 2 beds in Mbera camp Health Centre for a total of more than 60,000 refugees.

Outlook on the health situation in Mbera camp Given the development of the disease in the country and at a regional level, it is estimated that up to 6,000 refugees could contract COVID-19, i.e. 4,800 people would have mild symptoms and would be able to be treated at home, whilst 1,200 people would be moderate cases and in need of hospitalization to alleviate respiratory problems, depending on the degree of deterioration of the disease and the symptoms.

Urgent material and medicine needs

Based on these projections, UNHCR and its partners, WHO and ALIMA, carried out an assessment of the material and medicine needs in Mbera camp in order to be prepared for a possible outbreak of the disease among refugees. To date, the most urgent needs are:

• Expansion of the hospitalization area of the Mbera Health Center to have at least 14 beds (7 women and 7 men) for light and moderate cases = $60,000

• Purchase of medicines for COVID-19 treatment and associated pathologies, medical equipment and PPE equipment1 = $400,000

• Capacity building of the health workforce for COVID-19 cases care units = $70,000

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).