Special Initiatives & Emergency Response

Our donation to MSF will help protect communities most vulnerable to COVID-19

A consultation at MSF’s mobile clinic, in an IDP camp in Northwest Syria. Photo credits: MSF

The IKEA Foundation has donated €3 million to our partner Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to support their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This donation comes from the €10 million fund we have committed to our partners who are doing incredible work to protect people living in communities that are most vulnerable to the pandemic.

MSF teams are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in more than 70 countries. Their priorities are supporting health authorities to provide care for patients with COVID-19, protecting people who are most at risk and keeping essential medical services running.

Health education in Syria

In Idlib, northwestern Syria, MSF is working in Deir Hassan camp, which hosts 164,000 people who have fled their homes to escape fighting. The camp is overcrowded and people lack access to sanitation. While no cases have been declared in Idlib province, there is a risk that the disease may spread quickly in these conditions.

MSF health teams are attending training in infection prevention and control to make sure they won’t spread the virus. They will hold health education sessions on COVID-19 with displaced families in Deir Hassan camp, and distribute leaflets and hygiene kits. They are also assisting with the triage and screening of patients in the two MSF-supported health centres.

MSF’s mobile clinic, in an IDP camp in Northwest Syria. Photo credits: MSF

Support in hospitals in Cameroon

In Cameroon, which has one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, MSF teams are supporting the national response. They are increasing hospital capacity, reinforcing infection prevention and control measures, and setting up isolation wards. This is vital in parts of the country where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by violence.

“This support is particularly crucial as the medical capacity to care for people with COVID-19 will be very limited if the country is overwhelmed with cases with severe complications,” said Albert Viñas, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency coordinator for Cameroon.

“We also face a risk of medical staff and frontline workers being severely affected by the pandemic. It’s key to protect them and ensure safe patient flow, triage, and infection prevention and control measures in dedicated medical facilities.”

Shared values

As a long-standing partner, we are looking for new ways to support MSF in during this challenging time. In our recent “Ask an Expert” Q&A session, Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO, and Kenneth Lavelle, Deputy Director of Operations at MSF Geneva, highlighted the two organisation’s shared values of cost consciousness and always striving to improve.

According to Kenneth, for MSF this means “delivering the maximum amount of assistance to people” and asking, “how can we do better, how can we deliver more with less… every day we should be thinking in that way”.