Doctors Without Borders to Deploy Additional Teams in France to Help With COVID Case Increase

Doctors Without Borders is looking to increase its relief work in France, as the European nation confronts an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Paris-founded humanitarian aid organization (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in French) issued a public call to medical professionals and paramedics on Wednesday asking for their assistance. In a statement, the international non-profit said additional help is necessary to support nursing homes and residential care facilities in the Paris area, citing "a glaring shortage" of medical staff.

"More staff are needed to ensure residents receive dignified care adapted to their specific needs (whether they have COVID-19 or not), comply with health protocols, liaise with hospitals and, when necessary, provide palliative care," said Doctors Without Borders in its statement. The organization is seeking new participants as it works to expand an initiative already in place to support French nursing homes.

"Although our programme will focus initially on nursing homes we're already in contact with in the Paris area, we're also exploring how we can extend our support to other regions," said Jean-Hervé Bradol, a doctor involved in the existing nursing home aid initiative, on Wednesday.

We've been working in 56 nursing homes in #France since April 2020.

We've seen the sometimes-dire situations endured by residents and staff, often left to fend for themselves.

🚨Nursing homes need more medical staff in order to provide appropriate care.

— MSF International (@MSF) November 12, 2020

He explained that additional medical personnel allow the organization to grow its program, increasing its capacity to offer physical care, psychological support and medical equipment. The expanded program also aims to secure personnel who can provide facilities with guidance about mitigating COVID-19 transmission among residents and developing safety protocols for visitors.

Since April, near the onset of the pandemic, Doctors Without Borders has deployed teams to assist several nations' COVID-19 response efforts. In France, the organization established a program that has so far offered medical assistance to 56 nursing home facilities.

In the U.S., it operated limited programs between April and October, which prioritized individuals without access to health care. Its teams partnered with local officials and community organizations across the U.S. to establish programs in Florida, Michigan, New York and Texas, in addition to other parts of the southwest and Puerto Rico. The programs offered resources to farmworkers, indigenous communities, individuals lacking stable housing and, in some states, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

On Wednesday, a Doctors Without Borders spokesperson told Newsweek the organization's U.S. initiatives are no longer active.

France is one of several European countries that saw a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases over the past two months. The country entered a second national lockdown during the final days of October, as health officials recorded record breaking daily increases in new infections and intensive care units neared 60 percent capacity. When French President Emmanuel Macron announced the lockdown on October 28, he estimated its protocols would remain in place until December but noted the possibility of an additional extension should the outbreak persist.

Doctors Without Borders
Young migrants sit in tents at a makeshift camp set up by volunteers of charities Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) and Utopia 56 at a public park in Paris early on June 30, 2020. CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images/Getty