NAMPA, Idaho – Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is currently assisting the Lesotho Flying Doctor Service (LFDS), a division of the Lesotho Department of Health, in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to remote clinics in the country. Lesotho is a small, mountainous country of approximately 2 million people surrounded by South Africa.
On March 22 and March 23, MAF pilot Grant Strugnell flew a Cessna 206 with LFDS nurses and vaccines to Labekeng and Kuebunyane clinics to vaccinate clinic and community health care workers. Approximately 140 workers were vaccinated in Labekeng and 60 in Kuebunyane with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been used exclusively in Lesotho.
Due to limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Lesotho government has prioritized vaccinations for frontline health care workers and clinic staff as they work to acquire additional vaccines for the entire population.
MAF pilot Grant Strugnell said they are very pleased to be participating in the vaccination effort.
“MAF is very grateful for the initiative shown by the government, and our close partner, the Lesotho Flying Doctors Service. They have done a great job in working out the logistics, and MAF has been very pleased to be able to assist with the transport to a few of the harder to reach clinics,” said Strugnell.
With decades of experience safely transporting vaccines, medical supplies, and medical personnel in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, MAF is ideally positioned to assist in “last-mile delivery” of COVID-19 vaccines. During disease outbreaks, including the most recent Ebola epidemic in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, MAF uses cold-chain protocols to assure that vaccines are kept at proper temperatures.
In February, MAF delivered vaccines to remote areas of Kalimantan, Indonesia. The organization expects to be involved in additional COVID-19 vaccine flights as vaccination programs roll out in the remote areas where MAF works.
MAF has been serving in Lesotho since 1978 and is supported by five missionary staff families and 13 local staff. MAF uses four Cessna TU206G airplanes that are based in Maseru.