HI adapts its action to combat COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable
Our teams are making changes to the way they work in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the field wherever possible. This includes reviewing their current response and implementing new projects to protect people from the virus and deal with the impact of the crisis, with a focus on people with disabilities, children, women, and isolated and older people.
An humanitarian worker from the HI team in Uganda (Archive photo) | © Quinn Neely / HI
There are now 530,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide in some 175 countries and territories. Ninety-four percent of the 55 countries where HI works are affected.
It is vital to prevent the unchecked spread of the pandemic in Africa, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. But despite the small number of officially identified cases in many of these countries, we must act now. This is why our teams are working with the beneficiaries of our actions wherever still possible and adapting their response to reduce the spread of the virus and protect people as much as they can.
Adapting our response to protect the most vulnerable
Our existing projects take additional measures every day in response to the crisis
Thirty-seven of our projects have adapted their action and begun to implement or prepare measures in response to the virus, including multiple awareness and prevention actions in Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Sierra Leone, and other countries. We have also adjusted our logistics activities and humanitarian assistance in Central Africa, to include the use of gloves, masks and hydroalcoholic gel, particularly in Rwanda. This figure is subject to constant change.
Hygiene awareness is vital to combat COVID-19
It is obvious worldwide that a sanitary and medical emergency response must be combined with awareness-raising and education in order to prepare and protect everyone and strengthen the impact of the fight against the pandemic. Action to raise awareness of hygiene and protection measures is urgently needed to combat COVID-19. Our teams have been trained to protect themselves and provide the people they assist with prevention information. Learning aids, such as posters, comply with international standards.
We will provide specific advice to people with disabilities, with messages adapted to those with communication problems, such as people with deafness and hearing impairments, and the visually impaired. Others are specifically targeted at caregivers. Messages are also conveyed in a way adapted to their target audience.
Future actions: an emergency response adapted to COVID-19 and new projects
HI’s Emergency Division has created a COVID-19 crisis emergency response framework that integrates the need to support pre-determined priority sectors for governments, communities and individuals in the countries where we work. Where it is not possible to access populations, we will implement a specific response based on the media, digital resources and internet sites.