Agness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people in her community on proper handwashing, Malawi Photo: Henry MhangoAgness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people in her community on proper handwashing, Malawi Photo: Henry MhangoAgness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people in her community on proper handwashing, Malawi Photo: Henry Mhango

Concern's response to coronavirus: Our teams are on the ground

Concern's response to coronavirus: Our teams are on the ground

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic presents an exceptional challenge for countries all over the world. As the outbreak continues to spread, our teams are already responding to this global threat and are well-equipped to support those who are most vulnerable.

Given the impact of the disease on countries with strong health systems, Covid-19 poses an even larger threat to densely populated countries that are already struggling with the impact of conflict, climate change and malnutrition.

Our focus will be on maintaining our current lifesaving programmes, where possible, as well as playing our part in raising awareness of the tools that can be used to fight the spread of the infection.

Here is a detailed breakdown of how we are responding in each country.

Region: Horn of Africa

Somalia

Staff receive training in hand washing, Somalia. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Staff receive training in hand washing, Somalia. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Health facilities have implemented new measures to separate people, Somalia. Photo: Concern
Health facilities have implemented new measures to separate people, Somalia. Photo: Concern
Health facilities have implemented new measures to protect people from Covid-19, Somalia. Photo: Concern
Health centres have implemented new measures to protect people from Covid-19, Somalia. Photo: Concern

On 16 March 2020, the Federal Ministry of Health of Somalia confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in the country’s capital, Mogadishu. Somalia has just one ICU bed per million people. We are taking all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the communities we serve while ensuring the continuity of our lifesaving programmes. To do this, we are:

  • Scaling up response and prevention measures at health facilities to ensure communities can continue to safely access life-saving nutrition support, including implementing social distancing measures, increasing handwashing stations, raising awareness on the importance of good hygiene and delivering handwashing demonstrations for staff and patients.
  • Attempting to pre-position two months’ supply of life-saving therapeutic food, which will used for children suffering from life-threatening malnutrition.
  • Continuing to carry out cash transfers to vulnerable households across Somalia to help people cope with the economic shocks expected as a result of the pandemic. 

 

Ethiopia

Concern staff lead a Covid-19 awareness creation and hand-washing demonstration, Ethiopia.
Concern staff lead a Covid-19 awareness creation and hand-washing demonstration, Ethiopia.
Concern staff members lead a Covid-19 awareness creation and hand-washing demonstration.
Concern staff members lead a Covid-19 awareness creation and hand-washing demonstration.

In Ethiopia, we have adjusted how we work, briefing and training all our staff to ensure general understanding of the virus and necessary safety and prevention measures are in place. We have also reviewed and tweaked all activities to avoid large gatherings, while also ensuring our essential lifesaving programmes such as food distributions and treating malnutrition continue, without putting vulnerable populations at risk.

In our more targeted Covid-19 response, we are:

  • Providing guidelines and information, education and communication materials on Covid-19 to health facilities so they can ensure communities are well informed and prepared.
  • Setting up handwashing stations.
  • Distributing hand sanitiser, masks and further protective equipment to health staff.
  • Distributing soap to both health staff and people living in the communities where we work. So far, we have given out over 60,000 bars of soap in this way. We have also been providing handwashing demonstrations, followed by immediate distribution of soap.

 

South Sudan

On 5 April, the government of South Sudan announced its first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the country. Since then, there has been a gradual increase of cases. To respond to Covid-19 in South Sudan, we are:

  • Teaching mums how to measure their own children’s MUAC reading (the technique used to screen for malnutrition).
  • Contracting a tailor in one of Juba’s Protection of Civilian camps (PoCs) to make cloth facemasks for staff.
  • Ensuring social distancing at mobile health facilities, as well as promoting hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing and separating patients who have a high fever and cough.
  • Ensuring social distancing at nutrition and distribution sites and taking steps to minimise the number of people in health and nutrition centres at any one time.
  • Providing families with double or in some case triple the amount of food rations, as well as providing two weeks’ worth of therapeutic food to children in our outpatient therapeutic programmes and four weeks’ worth of rations to children in our therapeutic supplementary feeding programmes in Juba.
  • Setting up handwashing stations and distributing soap in all PoCs.
  • Training staff on Covid-19 awareness and circulating messaging on prevention, signs and symptoms, the importance of handwashing and good practices to prevent the spread of the virus amongst rural communities and in the PoCs.

 

Kenya

General View of the centre of Kibera slum area in Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram
General View of the centre of Kibera slum area in Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram

Concern is working with the Kenyan government in its response to Covid-19 by providing technical support through working groups and coordination meetings, but we are also responding by:

  • Spreading Covid-19 messaging and promoting good hygiene practices across local radio.
  • Giving cash assistance to urban households to cushion them against the economic impact of a Covid-19 shutdown.
  • Working with a number of other organisations to promote awareness of social distancing and preparation for an emergency situation.

 

Trevor (4) washes his hands. Ambeza Idd, (35) (blue vest) mans the hand washing station. Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya Photo: Ed Ram / Concern Worldwide
Trevor (4) washes his hands in Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya
General view of health care facility. Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya Photo : Ed Ram
General view of health care facility. Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya Photo : Ed Ram
Hand washing station in health care facility, Kibera slum. Nairobi, Kenya Photo : Ed Ram / Concern Worldwide
Hand washing station in a health care facility, Kibera slum. Nairobi, Kenya Photo

Region: Francophone Africa

Burundi

A Concern Care Group Volunteer demonstrating how to cough while protecting others from Covid-19 transmission. Photo: Maud Biton
A Concern worker showing how to cough while protecting others from Covid-19. Photo: Maud Biton

In Burundi, we are responding to Covid-19 by:

  • Ensuring social distancing is undertaken for all our activities and that handwashing stations are available at all our sites.
  • Training all staff on the risks, prevention, signs and symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Adapting our health programme to incorporate Covid-19 community messaging materials and activities.
  • Providing hygiene kits to facilitate proper handwashing.

 

Rwanda

In Rwanda, our team have developed strategies to support vulnerable communities through activities such as cash transfers, which will help to mitigate the economic impact of social distancing measures.

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

People observe social distancing and wash their hands before receiving distributions in Kasai Province, DRC. Photo: Elysée Muadi Nyembwe
People observe social distancing before receiving distributions in DRC. Photo: Elysée Muadi Nyembwe
People observe social distancing and wash their hands before receiving distributions in Kasai Province, DRC. Photo: Elysée Muadi Nyembwe
People observe social distancing before receiving distributions in DRC. Photo: Elysée Muadi Nyembwe

In DRC, we are adapting all our distribution activities in accordance with social distancing guidelines. However, we will continue cash transfer activities to help mitigate the economic impact of the virus. We are also adapting our health programme activities to include relevant hygiene activities and community messaging on infection.

 

Central African Republic

The arrival of Covid-19 in the Central African Republic (CAR) is expected to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of a population who are already coping with ongoing conflict, particularly in terms of access to good quality health services, adequate nutrition and livelihoods opportunities. As the hungriest country in the world, with one of the world’s weakest health systems, it is vital that we respond quickly and effectively. So far, we are:

  • Training health staff in 30 health centres, equipping them with the appropriate Covid-19 materials (such as handwashing stations, soap, chlorine and personal protection equipment), and messaging needed to ensure the safety of both staff and patients.
  • Adapting our regular activities to align with social distancing guidelines.
  • Producing radio messaging and other materials to promote vital messaging on reducing the spread of the virus.
  • Distributing disinfection kits (chlorine, personal protection equipment) in health centres and ensuring handwashing stations in health centres and schools have soap.

 

Niger

Hadiza demonstrations good hand washing technique she was taught at a Covid-19 awareness and soap distribution in Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Marie Rabo
Hadiza demonstrations good hand washing technique she was taught. Photo: Marie Rabo
Soap distribution in Folakawa, Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Marie Rabo
Soap distribution in Folakawa, Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Marie Rabo
Covid-19 awareness and soap distribution in Rangat, Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Marie Rabo
Covid-19 awareness and soap distribution in Rangat, Tahoua, Niger. Photo: Marie Rabo

In Niger, we are increasing all community awareness activities by sharing messages and advice to reduce the spread of Covid-19 over the radio. In addition, we are:

  • Training community leaders and community members to share information about the virus with the communities.
  • Working with health authorities to further strengthen the capacity and preparation of 94 health centres in the Tahoua region of Niger.
  • Setting up handwashing stations and distributing soap in all of our community locations, particularly in health centres.

 

Chad

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Chad was announced on the 19 of March. We are trying to maintain all activities, while at the same time taking the required mitigating measures. In response to Covid-19, we are:

  • Scaling up our water, sanitation and hygiene programming, including the distribution of handwashing kits and the introduction of handwashing stations with innovative ‘no touch’ foot pedals.
  • Sharing vital Covid-19 prevention and risk messaging with communities through Community Health Workers, radio spots, mobile sound systems, and leaflets and posters in public places.

 

Region: West, East and Central Africa

Liberia

Concern providing support in getting face masks delivered to health centres, Liberia.
Concern providing support in getting face masks delivered to health centres, Liberia.
Concern providing support in getting face masks delivered to health centres, Liberia.
Concern providing support in getting face masks delivered to health centres, Liberia.

In Liberia, our team has been scaling down our general programme activities in line with government restrictions. The primary focus at present has been on preparing materials to raise awareness around social distancing and handwashing, including the production of radio jingles.

 

Sierra Leone

A resident looks at a Covid-19 poster distributed by Concern after an awareness session. Photo: Mohamed Saidu Bah
A resident looks at a Covid-19 poster distributed by Concern after an awareness session. Photo: Mohamed Saidu Bah

In Sierra Leone, we have introduced a range of activities under our programmes to help slow the spread of the virus, many of which are adapted from our response to the Ebola crisis in 2017. These include:

  • Engaging with Traditional Healers to help spread important Covid-19 messaging and working with them to organise a ‘zone system’ in communities to ensure compliance with social distancing.
  • Training Community Health Workers on Covid-19 messaging and infection control practices. 
  • Producing educational materials on Covid-19 and broadcasting information through radios and loudspeaker vehicles.
  • Installing handwashing points at 50 locations, including transport areas, petrol stations and markets. These handwashing stations include ‘veronica buckets’ (a big bucket with a lid and a tap) and stands for the bucket, hand soap, and large plastic water storage tanks.

 

We are also maintaining essential health services so people still receive treatment for non-Covid-19 related health issues. The prevalence of life-threatening illnesses, such as malaria, is only set to increase with the onset of the rainy season, which typically runs from May until October. A large part of our health response is to support those clinics so that they can remain operational and continue to treat such conditions during this pandemic. We’re supplying them with vital Infection Protection Control (IPC) materials – everything from chlorine to hand sanitiser – so that they can maintain a safe and sterile environment for both staff and patients.

 

Sudan

To help reduce the spread of Covid-19 people wash hands before entering Concern-supported Nutrition Facility, Sudan.
To help reduce the spread of Covid-19 people wash hands before entering Concern-supported Nutrition Facility, Sudan.

In Sudan, our team has been scaling back regular programme activities in line with government social distancing restrictions and our health programme activities are currently being adapted to align with the national Covid-19 response strategy. We are:

  • Adding additional handwashing stations and cleaning materials at health facilities.
  • Distributing soap amongst the communities that we work with.
  • Providing logistical support with hygiene materials and the awareness-raising campaign. 

 

Malawi

Shyreen with her sons Ramsy and Leonard after receiving soap and Covid-19 fliers from Concern.
Shyreen with her sons Ramsy and Leonard after receiving soap and Covid-19 fliers from Concern.
Janet Bosko Jasad receives soap and Covid-19 fliers as part of a Concern Worldwide distribution.
Janet Bosko Jasad receives soap and Covid-19 fliers as part of a Concern Worldwide distribution.
Samson Ngoma, demonstrating proper handwashing using soap, Malawi Photo: Henry Mhango
Samson Ngoma, demonstrating proper handwashing using soap, Malawi Photo: Henry Mhango
Agness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people handwashing. Photo: Henry Mhango
Agness, a Community Health Volunteer demonstrating how she will teach people handwashing. Photo: Henry Mhango
Marriam Jamali received soap as part of of hygiene distribution to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 by Concern in Lilongwe. Her son Bruno helps pour water on her hands while she washes them.
Marriam Jamali received soap as part of of hygiene distribution to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 by Concern in Lilongwe. Her son Bruno helps pour water on her hands while she washes them.

Malawi’s population is particularly vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19, with just 25 intensive care unit beds and 20 ventilators in a country of more than 17 million people. As a result, our team has adapted our programme activities to reduce the size of meetings, keeping physical distance between the farmers we work with and introducing handwashing before and after trainings and seed fairs. We are also responding by:

  • Supporting the Ministry of Health by providing training, as well as raising awareness of Covid-19 in areas where the effect of the virus will hit hardest.
  • Distributing Personal Protective Equipment, where available, for health workers in both urban and rural areas, as well as training Community Health Workers on the risks and prevention of Covid-19.
  • Providing cash transfers to support extremely poor households.

 

Region: Asia

Afghanistan

The outbreak of Covid-19 is likely to affect Afghanistan significantly due to its weak health system, limited access to hygiene and sanitation facilities, and cramped living conditions in camps where people having fled conflict are currently living. As a result, we are responding by:

  • Reducing group activities to a maximum of 15 people.
  • Installing handwashing facilities in our areas of operation.
  • Installing water tanks, distributing masks and hygiene messaging in Taloqan prison where needs related to Covid-19 prevention were raised.
  • Obtaining crucial hygiene materials, including soap and paper towels to distribute amongst vulnerable communities.
  • Conducting hygiene awareness campaigns specifically tailored to Covid-19.

 

Bangladesh

Concern Bangladesh have implemented new measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Firoz Mahmud
Concern have implemented new measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Firoz Mahmud
Maintaining Social Distancing while mothers are waiting to receive Nutritional Supplement from a Concern Worldwide Supported Site, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.Photo: Md. Al-Nasim
Maintaining Social Distancing while mothers are waiting to receive nutrition support from Concern. Photo: Md. Al-Nasim
Concern teams are distributing COVID19 leaflets in Bangladesh. Photo: Md. Mohidul Hasan/ Concern Worldwide
Concern teams are distributing COVID19 leaflets in Bangladesh. Photo: Md. Mohidul Hasan/ Concern Worldwide
Volunteer disinfecting a nutrition centre in a Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Volunteer disinfecting a nutrition centre in a Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Kona* a Concern programme participant washing her hands as a preventative measure to the spread of COVID-19 Photo: AKM Jakaria / Concern Worldwide
Kona* a Concern programme participant washing her hands as a preventative measure to the spread of COVID-19 Photo: AKM Jakaria/Concern Worldwide

Bangladesh is reportedly the only country where the Covid-19 death rate is higher than the recovery rate. The government has imposed a nationwide shutdown in a bid to contain the virus. As such, we have redesigned our nutrition services at the Rohingya camps near the city of Cox’s Bazar, where over 900,000 refugees are living in close proximity to each other and are in significant danger should Covid-19 enter the community. In addition to this, we are responding by:

  • Ensuring the availability of a month’s supply of food to the Rohingya refugees. Having distributed a double ration of food prior to a period of shutdown, we have also prepositioned food stock in the camps that can be distributed by our volunteer network should the restrictions continue for a longer period.
  • Providing gloves and masks to help prevent the spread of the virus whilst increasing awareness campaigns on hygiene promotion and infection control through one-to-one discussions in line with social distancing and demonstrations of how to use protective equipment.
  • Distributing information leaflets about Covid-19 to communities outside of the Rohingya camps.

 

Pakistan

In Pakistan, where 45 deaths had been reported up to 6 April, we are adapting along with the Pakistan government's National Action Plan for Covid-19. The aim of the plan is to boost response capacity including surveillance systems, community engagement and awareness.

 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In DPRK, all movement within Pyongyang has been restricted as WHO personal protective equipment arrives in the country.

 

Region: Middle East

Iraq

Concern worker wearing PPE
A Concern worker responds to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Distribution of 2832 COVID-19 prevention Hygiene Kits at Khankay IDPs camp Dohuk Kurdistan Iraq Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Distribution of 2832 COVID-19 prevention Hygiene Kits at Khankay IDPs camp Dohuk Kurdistan Iraq Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Distribution of COVID-19 prevention Hygiene Kits at IDPs camp Dohuk Kurdistan Iraq Photo: OCHA.
Distribution of COVID-19 prevention Hygiene Kits at IDPs camp Dohuk Kurdistan Iraq Photo: OCHA.

In Iraq, years of war have taken a toll on its population and on governance, resulting in a limited capacity to rebuild the country. This is becoming even more challenging with the growing number of Covid-19 cases. Furthermore, over 200,000 people are living in camps in northern Iraq, making social distancing measures extremely difficult. We are:

  • Distributing soap, detergent and sanitary pads to over 80,000 people.
  • Promoting Covid-19 prevention messaging through local partners.

 

Lebanon

In Lebanon, all activities that require group sessions have been suspended, as are all livelihoods activities, until further notice. However, emergency work in terms of water, sanitation and hygiene is ongoing, as are our shelter activities. Our current activities in relation to Covid-19 response include:

  • Undertaking awareness activities and hygiene kit distribution to refugee collective shelters.
  • Rehabilitating a 50-room disused school to be used as an Isolation Facility.
  • Ramping up remote case management.

 

Turkey

In Turkey, the number of deaths has now passed the 2000 mark.

We are responding to Covid-19 by:

  • Providing urgent shelter support, cash support for food (in the form of shopping cards), basic household items (mattress, kitchen items etc.), and emergency transportation.
  • Piloting the online delivery of trainings to caregivers of children on measures to take to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • Preparing to distribute 3,575 hygiene kits with soap, shampoo and anti-bacterial surface cleaners to vulnerable families.

 

Syria

The scale, severity and complexity of needs in Syria remain extensive with an estimated 11.7 million people in need, including thousands of people living in camps and informal settlements. These communities are especially vulnerable to Covid-19 because of crowded living conditions, inadequate shelter, limited access to water, handwashing facilities and soap, the prevalence of pre-existing medical conditions, with limited functioning health facilities. As a result, we are:

  • Rapidly increasing hygiene kit distribution, which includes soap, dish washing gel, shampoo and laundry powder.
  • Providing extensive hygiene promotion campaigns based on World Health Organisation guidelines such as appropriate handing washing practices.
  • Building handwashing facilities at health centres and planning to increase the number of water points to ensure Syrians, to the extent possible, meet social distancing guidelines.
  • Continuing to distribute food vouchers to limit the economic effects Covid-19 will have on vulnerable people.

 

Region: Caribbean

Haiti

Cherica washes her hands in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Cherica washes her hands in Cite Soleil slum, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Already hit by a severe political and environmental crisis, Haiti is now facing another significant challenge with Covid-19. It will be particularly difficult in the slum areas of Port-of-Prince where we are currently implementing programmes.

Our team is committed to following Government recommendations such as social distancing and are working on adapting our programmes in Port-of-Prince in order to respond to the threat. Under our ‘Disaster Risks Reduction’ (DRR) programme, we have been putting in place important prevention measures such as social distancing messaging, hygiene kit distributions and water point and pump installations.

 

The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis that requires a global response. Concern has always been committed to a principal of leaving no-one behind – and this has never been more relevant.

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