Mission Aviation Fellowship begins COVID-19 vaccine delivery in rural Madagascar

GUELPH, Ontario, May 20, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Humanitarian organization Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is delivering COVID-19 vaccines in the island nation of Madagascar.

On May 11, MAF Madagascar was able to fly its first load of COVID-19 vaccines to Marolambo with Canadian pilot Ryan Unger. This flight was the first remote vaccine delivery in Madagascar; UNICEF chartered the flight, and the Madagascar government provided vaccines.

MAF Pilot Wouter Nagel explained a bit more about the first vaccine flight: “We flew 500 doses of the vaccine to the community in Maralambo. This journey would take one to two weeks by car (if it’s passable and only with a 4x4 vehicle, not a truck), or a 40-minute MAF flight.” Cutting down on travel time makes all the difference in the world when you need to maintain a specific temperature for the vaccinations.

Two days later, the plane was chartered by UNICEF for a second vaccine flight, this time to four different destinations. This flight transported 6500 doses to four separate destinations – enough to vaccinate 3250 people.

These are not the first vaccine delivery flights MAF has conducted. MAF has been delivering vaccines in Indonesia and Lesotho since last month and continues to monitor the situation in the over 30 countries in which it serves. When requested, MAF will be ready for vaccine delivery in these countries.

Because MAF has cold chain delivery experience and procedures already in place, this delivery required no special circumstances beyond those. The doses need to be stored at between two and eight degrees Celsius, and they were shipped in cold boxes for the six-and-a-half-hour journey. MAF is grateful for their previous experience with the transport of vaccines, which allows them to step in and help deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to remote parts of the world.

Mission Aviation Fellowship has been serving in Madagascar since 1988, with its main base in Antananarivo. There are five international staff families and 22 national staff in the program. The program relies on two aircraft, a Cessna 182 and Cessna 208.

Canadian pilot Ryan Unger, along with his wife Kristen, have served overseas with MAF since 2006.

For more than 75 years, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been using aviation and technology to reach isolated communities in the farthest corners of the earth. Today, we partner with over 1,500 organizations to deliver support, hope, healing, spiritual care, and community development to thousands of communities where flying is not a luxury but a lifeline.

MAFC.org | 1-877-351-9344 | bbell@mafc.org