Your gift to the Christian Aid Coronavirus Emergency Appeal today will save lives tomorrow. Details on how to give are at the bottom of this article.
Rich countries have struggled. Poor countries will be devastated. Christian Aid helped reduce the spread of Ebola and we can slow the spread of coronavirus too.
Coronavirus is having a huge impact on the rich countries of the world. Our health systems are stretched and struggling. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost and the death toll grows with each passing day. But in the world’s poorest countries, perhaps just three weeks behind the UK and Ireland, a catastrophe is unfolding.
The infection has reached every one of the countries in which Christian Aid works, with the highest numbers of reported cases being in Brazil, India and the Dominican Republic. As ever, a lack of testing masks the true scale of the pandemic.
Aid agencies are warning that coronavirus will devastate poor countries, and here’s why:
Handwashing – without soap and water
Three billion people, 40% of the world’s population, do not have access to soap and water. In sub-Saharan Africa, home to 645 million people, three-quarters of the population have no facilities at home to wash their hands with soap and water.
Physical distancing – in a crowded slum or refugee camp?
Physical distancing is impossible for the one billion people who live in overcrowded refugee camps, slums and shanty towns. And you can’t isolate those with coronavirus symptoms if your entire family live in one room.
Poor people = poor health
Many people living in extreme poverty, in refugee camps, or battling drought, hunger, malaria and HIV, are already in poor health and lack the resilience to withstand a new infection.
Fragile health systems
The world’s poorest countries, many dealing with conflict and humanitarian crises, can barely handle their everyday caseloads, let alone a pandemic. Poor countries have few, if any, ventilators or intensive care beds. South Sudan, for example, has no intensive care beds and only two ventilators for a population of 12 million.
Fragile social welfare systems
The governments of poor countries lack the social welfare systems to help those who lose their jobs due to lockdown. For the newly unemployed in these countries, there will be no government bail-out or guaranteed 80% of their salaries to help ensure they are still able to feed their families. Many people will have no choice but to go to work, spreading the infection. The poorest people work in jobs that are insecure and cash-in-hand, leaving them with just enough money to get by each day. Even a single day of lockdown would cause hardship.
But there is hope. Working with local partners and faith leaders, Christian Aid helped reduce the spread of the deadly Ebola virus and we are already working to slow the spread of coronavirus.
In Afghanistan, our local partner has given hygiene kits containing soap to 1,400 people.
In Afghanistan and Bangladesh, we are sharing vital health information via religious leaders.
In Bangladesh and Myanmar, we are bringing food and soap to families facing hardship after losing their jobs due to the lockdown.
In Myanmar, our local partners have given soap to more than 30,000 people and distributed 2,000 surgical masks.
In the Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, we are setting up isolation areas in health facilities to treat people with symptoms. There, and in north-east Nigeria, we are working to prevent the spread of fake news.
In Angola, El Salvador, Gaza and Guatemala we are helping women at risk of domestic violence during lockdown.
In South Africa, our local partners are campaigning to ban evictions during the pandemic so that shanty town dwellers don’t face an even greater risk of infection.
Love unites, love protects, love never fails.
Even in the darkest moments, love brings hope.
How you can support the Christian Aid Coronavirus Emergency Appeal?
• £27/€31 could help provide food for someone in quarantine, so they don’t have to leave their home and risk spreading the virus.
• £50/€57 could help pay for a community toilet and handwashing block.
• £120/€137 could help provide areas within health facilities to isolate anyone with symptoms.
Please donate today to save lives. Visit the Christian Aid Coronavirus Emergency Appeal webpage here or call 028 9064 8133 (Belfast) or 01 496 4070 (Dublin).