Madagascar - A traveling health service
The population of the Boeny region, in western Madagascar, is cut off from health care facilities by the Betsiboka river. In 2007, doctor Abel Legendre and his NGO "Pour que vive Maroala*" began traveling to the region to deliver health services.
The first time I visited the village of Maroala, I was struck by the difficult conditions in which the local people live. Their clinic was run-down and unable to provide essential health care to a population ravaged by malaria. Despite these conditions, they had an exceptionally positive outlook. It was this that made me want to help them. As a retired physiotherapist, I had time on my hands. So, in 2007, I set up an NGO called "Pour que vive Maroala*".
Facilitating access to health care
The locals had to cross the Betsiboka river and travel around 25 kilometers to get to hospital. My idea was to build a boat to take people across the river. One of my contacts put me in touch with Total’s local affiliate, which supported me with my project. The company now provides 5,000 liters of free fuel per year for the boat.
Over time, with the help of local supporters and volunteers, I’ve managed to build four clinics in the region. Two of them are fitted with solar panels supplied by Total. These panels power the refrigerators where the polyvalent vaccines are stored. I also kitted out a second boat to deliver traveling health services.
Improving local medical services
With Total’s support, we’ve been able to save lives. Our boats are the only way to get health care to this completely isolated population. Each time we visit, we see around 100 patients. On one occasion, when we were going to vaccinate a village, a woman brought me her baby. I quickly realized that the baby had a serious heart defect. With help from La Chaîne de l’Espoir, we managed to get the child operated on in Paris. Stories like this strengthen our resolve to continue improving local medical services in the region. We need to involve more local, talented people in our work. We’re also working with the Health Ministry to try to reproduce what we’ve done in the region at the Pangalanes canal. I hope that Total will continue to support our work.
* For more information, visit: www.maroala.org