© Mylène Zizzo

Burkina Faso

1 milion

internally displaced people in 2020

3.5 milion

people in need of humanitarian assistance


security incidents un 2020

The situation in Burkina Faso: a multi-focus humanitarian mission

From the medical and social perspectives Burkina Faso is experiencing a humanitarian emergency.

A country suffering against a background of indifference

Burkina Faso has found itself in a vicious circle of violence since 2016. The civilian population and public institutions were the target of 1,120 security incidents during 2020. With attacks, massacres and savage assaults, the escalation in violence has forced over a million civilians to flee from the horror of these events, triggering an unprecedented humanitarian emergency.

A healthcare system severely affected by the insecurity

The healthcare system has been severely affected by this climate of insecurity. The theft and destruction of ambulances and intimidation and kidnapping of health workers have become common currency in Burkina Faso, leading to drastic shortages of medicines, equipment and healthcare staff. It is estimated that over one million people in Burkina Faso have no access to healthcare today.

Cervical cancer is taking its toll - medical assistance is urgently needed in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women (22.2% according to the WHO). It is often only diagnosed at an advanced stage even though it is the most preventable cancer in women. Most people who contract cancer in Burkina Faso have no access to screening, early diagnosis, treatment or palliative care. This inadequate response is characterised by a nationwide lack of specific treatment facilities and equipment. In April 2016, the government introduced free screening for precancerous cervical lesions. However, this decision has not been implemented in practice due to a lack of human and financial resources.

Refugge camp in Mentao © Mylene Zizzo
Refugge camp in Mentao © Mylene Zizzo

Our humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso

To address the lack of healthcare and particularly the health problems affecting women, Médecins du Monde’s humanitarian assistance to Burkina Faso has largely taken the form of medical aid.

Emergency humanitarian programme opens in Kongoussi

In 2020, Médecins du Monde launched a humanitarian emergency programme in Kongoussi, in north central Burkina Faso, to address the needs of the local population where health services have broken down.

Since starting this work, our teams have:

  • provided support to nine health centres through our medical aid to Burkina Faso: free medical consultations, and malnutrition screening and treatment for children under the age of five
  • set up two mobile clinics to reach the most isolated communities and address their most urgent needs, such as vaccination
  • distributed hygiene products and raised awareness about protective measures to combat Covid-19

Due to the vast scale of need, in late 2020 Médecins du Monde conducted an exploratory humanitarian mission in Burkina Faso, in the Boucle du Mouhoun region in the north-west of the country, an area with alarming levels of food insecurity and very high excess infant mortality. We plan to set up a project in this region in 2021 to expand on our primary care interventions.

In 2020

As part of our humanitarian action in Burkina Faso, we:

  • screened 2,063 women

  • treated 29 cases of precancerous lesions


Covid-19 response: one aspect of medical aid to Burkina Faso


In response to the Covid-19 epidemic raging in the country, MdM has provided support to the health authorities in Kongoussi and Baskuy (Ouagadougou) through infection prevention and control activities at health centres, distribution of protective equipment and hygiene kits and awareness-raising within communities.

In 2020

we raised awareness through our humanitarian mission in Burkina Faso. In figures:

  • distribution of over 94,000 surgical masks
  • 459 awareness-raising radio broadcasts


Women’s health: a key aspect of medical assistance in Burkina Faso

Tackling cervical cancer

Médecins du Monde helps with early screening and treatment of precancerous cervical lesions in women aged 22 to 55.

The prevalence of cervical cancer in Burkina Faso is 23% and it accounts for 22% of the cancer mortality rate. Access to screening is still limited due to lack of training and disruption of supplies.

Our NGO train healthcare staff in the Baskuy health district in Ouagadougou and provide health facilities with equipment and supplies for screening for the virus which causes cervical cancer (HPVinfo-icon). This enables the early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions. Médecins du Monde seeks to help women with advanced cancerous lesions to access appropriate treatment or palliative care.


Our humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso is based on three new approaches:

  • allowing women to choose the technique used to take samples;
  • screening by testing for the virus that causes cervical cancer;
  • use of thermocoagulation to treat precancerous lesions.

In 2020


  • screened 6,499 women;
  • treated 74 cases of precancerous lesions.



our institutional support

L'Organisation mondiale de la santé soutient Médecins du Monde
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First intervention by Médecins du Monde in Burkina Faso, focusing on nutritional and oral health.
Intervention in the Sahel to improve access to basic healthcare.
The Sahel programme is expanded to address malnutrition.
Programme with Malian refugees to enable them to access essential healthcare.
Intervention to prevent unwanted pregnancies in some districts of the Sahel.
Emergency intervention to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
Closure of the Malian refugee programme.
Severe malnutrition programme transferred to Médecins du Monde Spain and LVIA.
Work on prevention and management of unwanted pregnancy focused on young people (aged 10-24).
Programme on prevention and management of unwanted pregnancy extended to the Gorom-Gorom health district.
Cervical cancer programme launched in the Baskuy health district in Ouagadougou.
Médecins du Monde launched a humanitarian emergency programme in Kongoussi to address the needs of the local population where health services have broken down.

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