The recent outbreak of Ebola in western Africa has brought attention to the sad state of healthcare in that part of the world. But those who spend any time in Africa are keenly aware of its inadequacies. Few hospitals and doctors … limited access to immunizations, or fear of them … illnesses caused by lack of clean water … and so many other challenges.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) works in several parts of Africa, and medical flying is an important part of what we do. In the small southern Africa country of Lesotho, 73 percent of MAF’s flights are of a medical nature. More than 23 percent of Lesotho’s people are infected with HIV/AIDS, the second highest rate in the world. The life expectancy is just 53 years, compared to the global average of 70 years. MAF works in partnership with the Lesotho Flying Doctors Service, supporting the work of doctors and nurses at 10 clinics in the mountains. We are constantly flying nurses to the clinics, along with the food they will need for the one, two, three, or four weeks that they will be on duty in the mountains.
Likewise, in Mozambique, MAF was instrumental in founding the MozMed flying doctor service. MAF transports these Christian healthcare professionals to the villages of Moma and Gurue when they administer vaccines, conduct exams, perform dental work, and treat the sick and injured. Emergency medical flights are a common occurrence for all MAF pilots.
In recent weeks, MAF has played a key role in the efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MAF’s dedicated team has flown eight loads of medical supplies and personnel to the Boende region of the DRC, in Equateur province. On the return flights, we carry out Ebola samples for analysis. There are no paved roads between Boende and Kinshasa, and without MAF’s services, help would be very slow in coming to these suffering people.
Several people have asked me if these Ebola flights are dangerous. Yes, there is a risk, although MAF has a plan in place to control that risk. But this is what we are called to do: to bring hope to the lost and suffering. Sometimes that hope takes the form of doctors, nurses, syringes, and IV solution … accompanied by the prayers of the MAF staff who have committed their lives to God’s work.
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” — Matthew 10:8
And each time God uses an MAF flight to save a life, that flight is lifted up by the prayers of the ministry’s friends and supporters who intercede so faithfully. You know who you are. To you—and our Lord Jesus Christ—I am most grateful.