I am finally vaccinated; I can find stable work to improve our living conditions
On the island of Nosy-Be – a tourist paradise in the northwest of Madagascar – the survival of the population depends entirely on the economic recovery, which will only really be effective when the destination is «safe»
The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged tourism, Madagascar’s third largest generator of foreign currency. The people from Nosy-Be will not say the contrary: the island, which lives entirely from tourism, has been completely affected by the closure of borders since the lockdown period in March 2020. It has been a matter of survival for several months in a row. “My husband is a bricklayer. I was a fruit and vegetable merchant at the market, but we were endeavouring to make ends meet for several months in a row,” recalls Marie Ella Zarasoa, a mother of three.
She has now decided to change activity because her business is less and less profitable. “Things have completely changed after COVID-19. The cost of living has risen significantly and holding a market is becoming increasingly difficult. We had to find an alternative to meet the needs of our three children,” she said. She inquired about becoming a maid or waitress at a city hotel, but it is impossible to apply without presenting a certificate of vaccination status. “I am systematically asked if I am vaccinated. That is why I took the opportunity of this information kiosk in the big market to find out more about the vaccine and get things done at the vaccinodrome next door,” she explains. This is her first dose but also the one that will give her the status of a fully vaccinated person, as she chose the Jansen vaccine.
She can finally start all the steps in her job search. At the information kiosk, she is directed to the nearest Basic Health Centre for her boost dose in six months. “I won’t hesitate to come back because our family life depends on it,” she said.
Vaccination and tourism to make Nosy-Be a ‘safe’ destination
Marie Ella Zarasoa came to one of the vaccinodromes set up by UNICEF and health partners, as part of the Marokintana Festival in Nosy-Be. From 03 to 05 November, the tourist island hosts a major tourist event, under the patronage of the President of the Republic. Both the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Public Health continue to sound the alarm about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, in order to maintain the course of the re-opening of borders and the recovery of economic activities. “The destination can only be designated ‘safe’ if nearly 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated,” it is known. To date, only 21 per cent of the Nosy-Be population has received at least one first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Work remains to be done, hence the collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF with other technical and financial partners, including ECHO, GAVI and the recent mission of Covid-19 Delivery Partnership (COVDP) in Madagascar. Securing the destination is everyone’s business, and flagship activities are being conducted to that effect.
During the Marokintana Festival, UNICEF and the partners set up three healthcare facilitations where one can find vaccinodrome, information kiosk, diabetes screening, HIV-AIDS testing or nutritional surveillance of under 5 ages children.
The destination can only be designated ‘safe’ if nearly 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.