Mayotte: Serious Health Risks - Doctors of the World

Mayotte: Serious Health Risks





For almost four weeks, many people with whom we work in Mayotte have told us that they are unable to access healthcare centers. The two main reasons are: widespread insecurity and the blockades set up by “citizens’ movements” on the island’s roads and sea routes. The blockades are largely led by gangs as well as activists collectives like the one called “Forces vives de Mayotte”. 

The collectives are setting up the blockades to protest against irregular migration and inadequate security measures on the island. They have shut down the port and prevented shipments carrying food and supplies from entering the island nation. They also have set up blockades for many public services. 

Dispensaries, Maternal and Child Protection, specialized units and many other health services have been blocked without the authorities intervening. On January 22, the Jacaranda dispensary was once again blocked by groups.

We are concerned about the state of health of local residents, particularly those suffering from chronic illnesses, who have been unable to access public health centers, regular treatments or emergency services in recent weeks.

These serious obstacles only exacerbate the difficulties and increase the already glaring inequalities in this region.  The consequences, although foreseeable, are disastrous.

In addition to chronic staff shortages in many services on the island’s, some daycare centers are now also closing, with no government mechanism to prevent this.

Everyday we receive many testimonies from health workers. One of them reports the death of an infant on February 3 when an ambulance was blocked by the collectives’ blockades.

“I’m a nurse at the Mamoudzou hospital and I live on Petite Terre. For several weeks now, the blockades on the island have prevented me from getting to hospital.” This healthcare worker and many others regularly alert us to their inability to go to their workplace, when it is still open.

At the beginning of February, there was only one nurse and two childcare assistants for 30 patients, instead of six at the CHM. The nurses who manage to get there report degraded conditions which prevent them from providing quality care: closure of the laboratory and the central pharmacy, slower response by the emergency services, etc.




At the same time, voluntary organizations are faced with incursions into their premises, verbal and physical attacks, and even being locked out of their facilities.

It seems incomprehensible that our associations, which work on the ground for the common good and in the fields of education, social inclusion, disability, health and youth, should be the target of such stigmatizing rhetoric.

It would be unwarranted to forget that these are the same associations that are on the front lines during the various crises that affect the region (COVID, drought, etc.). By inhibiting their work, the risks to public health and the wellbeing of the Mayotte population is growing rapidly. 


Wuambushu: 2nd wave of attack


In May 2023, a large number of health establishments had to close for nearly three weeks following blockades by collectives during Operation Wuambushu. Wuambushu was a French military operation that sought to clear slums, including razing makeshift settlements and sending undocumented migrants back to neighboring Comoros. The operation was widely criticized by human rights organizations both in Mayotte and abroad. 

Since the initial Wuambushu operation, healthcare facilities and associations on the island have become targets and are regularly blocked for the sole reason that they are public places, open to all. This is why we are also concerned by the recent announcement of a “Wuambushu II”.




The State’s current stance in the face of these facts is largely inadequate, and an all-out security approach cannot meet the many challenges facing Mayotte.

We call on the authorities to take the full measure of these problems, which unfortunately run the risk of recurring cyclically in the short, medium or long term.




  1. Take the necessary measures to guarantee physical access to healthcare facilities and access to rights for everyone in the department.
  2. Act and guarantee the protection of healthcare facilities and their surroundings.
  3. Preserve the freedom to operate under dignified conditions for associations governed by the 1901 Act. They must have the means to carry out their missions and be supported by the public authorities. Their staff and users must be able to move freely.
  4. Develop and implement a truly ambitious medium- and long-term development policy for the island in the areas of education, youth, health and appropriate access to high-quality public services.


The systemic crises that Mayotte is going through cannot be resolved by reactionary responses that are above all grandstanding without resolving the real structural problems of the country.





© Martin Straub