Christian Aid responds to alarming spike in coronavirus cases
Published on 24 April 2020
- In the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh we are helping make health centres safe
- In Myanmar, our local partner is distributing soap and food rations to over 15,000 people
- In El Salvador, our partner’s domestic violence phoneline saw 300% rise in calls
Across the world nearly 200,000 people have died and close to 3 million people have been infected.
The focus of the pandemic has moved from China, to Europe and then to the United States. However, there are increasingly worrying signs that the worst is yet to come as more cases are reported in poorer countries.
For developing countries without strong health care systems, it will be harder to prevent the spread of coronavirus, harder to treat those who become infected and there is a risk people will be even more vulnerable to its effects.
As much as this is a health emergency, coronavirus is already proving to be economically devastating for the world’s poorest. Lockdowns have led to entire livelihoods being wiped out leaving many families struggling to survive. There is the real fear that some countries already facing food shortages could inch closer to famine.
Every region that Christian Aid supports has seen coronavirus cases, and already we are currently responding in 17 countries.
Christian Aid is using lessons learned during our response to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo to work closely with religious leaders to ensure key health messages are accepted in local communities.
Here is a snapshot of some of the ways Christian Aid is helping to support some of the world’s poorest people during this unprecedented time:
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
We are working to prevent a devastating outbreak in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where 850,000 Rohingya refugees are crammed into more than 30 camps. Christian Aid has been providing life-saving aid in the camps for the past three years and is now working with partners to help prevent the spread of coronavirus by raising awareness about the need for handwashing and physical distancing as well as making sure that health centres in the camps have safe screening and isolation areas in order to treat suspected cases without spreading the virus further.
Our local partners have distributed soap to over 30,000 people as well as demonstrated thorough handwashing techniques and shared information on considerate coughing and the need for returning family members to self-quarantine for two weeks. Other partners have distributed 2,000 surgical masks, 200 bottles of hand sanitizer as well as soap and food rations to over 15,000 people living in more than 40 villages in lockdown. We are also supporting training that will produce thousands of litres of hand sanitizer and tens of thousands of facemasks
In El Salvador, Christian Aid has been supporting women and vulnerable families who have experienced increased hardship because of the country’s lockdown. Our local partner, the Organisation of the Salvadorian Women for Peace (ORMUSA) maintains a phone line to provide legal assistance to women facing domestic and sexual violence. Shockingly, during lockdown the number of calls received by the phoneline has increased by over 300%.