In 2018, cases of measles in Europe tripled to more than 80,000 – a record number for this decade. Yet, according to the World Health Organisation, less than 2% of those cases occurred in the UK.

The simple difference is the rate of vaccination.

Such has been the success of the NHS’ decades-long vaccination programme that we have all but eradicated measles in the UK. In doing so, we may have forgotten the true horror of a deadly virus which still kills more than 300 children worldwide every single day.

Measles can infect the lungs and brain. Measles causes pneumonia, blindness and death. It is extremely contagious and – when combined with high levels of malnutrition – is practically unstoppable.

Last autumn, hundreds of children tragically died in a sudden outbreak of measles in Madagascar. 

MAF – a trustworthy envoy

In a land where the vast majority of the population live on less than £2 per day, the cost of life-saving treatment is beyond most people’s reach. 

In response to the tragedy, the Madagascan government and several NGOs formed an emergency action group with the bold ambition to offer free vaccination to every child between nine months and nine years.

Proverbs 13:17 ‘A trustworthy envoy brings healing’

They called MAF to ask for our help. In the 27 countries we serve, MAF is trusted for our unique ability to respond rapidly to life-or-death situations.

We immediately said ‘yes’ to this request for urgent assistance.

And we’re asking you to say ‘yes’ to protecting lives that are under serious threat. If you’d like to keep our aircraft ready to save lives at a moment’s notice, please send us a gift. 

Tens of thousands saved

On the day of the first emergency flight to Morafenobe, MAF’s hangar was almost full of vaccinations, syringes and cotton wool. Dry ice was packed around the vaccines to keep them at the necessary temperature for several days.

Thanks to MAF, there was no risk the vaccines would become overheated or damaged by a punishing three-day journey on mud roads. 

That first flight took less than an hour.

Around the world, thousands of men, women and children rely on our aircraft as we rely on your compassion, prayers and generosity.

As box after box of vaccines was unloaded at Morafenobe, Ambatomainty, Mananara and Sainte Marie, 50,000 children were assured of receiving a gift more precious than they are old enough to understand. 

MAF Madagascar’s Charlotte Pedersen accompanied one of the first plane-loads and recalls how wonderful it felt to deliver the gift of life.

‘As we landed at the remote Morafenobe airstrip, we saw a car approaching. It was the local doctor, come to pick up the vaccines. “I’ve read about MAF!” he told me. “These flights are so helpful for the people of Madagascar.” The next day, 7,000 children were vaccinated.

‘The following week, mass vaccination meant there was a lot of screaming in those villages,’ Charlotte concludes, ‘in stark contrast to the cries of mothers grieving for the loss of their beloved children.’

Thirty years ago – just as the MMR vaccine was being given to babies in the UK for the first time – we opened our Madagascar programme. Since then, MAF has become a trusted symbol of life to generations of isolated people living in urgent need of help, hope and healing.

Men, women and children trust MAF to send them planes – we trust you to send whatever you can. Please make a gift and save lives, just like we did in Madagascar.

Since the outbreak, MAF has worked incredibly hard to get Madagascar’s national programme off to a flying start by delivering more than 375,000 doses of measles vaccinations to 12 destinations!