While, the full consequences of this pandemic have yet to be seen, we know that people in the world’s most vulnerable countries will suffer disproportionately, as they always do. In response, we are busy raising additional resources needed to meet emerging humanitarian needs. Below is the Peace Winds’ multisectoral approach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peace Winds America: Covid-19 Integrated Multisector Approach
Refugees and displaced persons are at higher risk of contracting coronavirus since they often cannot practice social distancing, and have little to no access to proper sanitation systems or medical care should they become sick. Most of the displaced communities that Peace Winds works are hosted in developing countries, where intensive care units often have fewer beds, fewer ventilators, and limited access to the high level of care needed for the most severe cases.
Barriers to health care and discrimination create an environment where the ill are often not treated, and cases go undetected enabling the rapid spread of the virus. Deep fears and anxieties in individuals and communities can also lead to people turning that fear against refugees and others who are most vulnerable. Prevention or delaying outbreaks, particularly among the most vulnerable, is therefore the best way to protect refugees and host communities.
Peace Winds works with communities to draw up preparedness plans and measures, directly involving refugees themselves from day one. This allows our teams to address specific concerns in outbreak response and to take account of existing social and cultural sensitivities.
Peace Winds’ approach to COVID-19 is a multi-sector integrated and inclusive approach. Our coordinated response brings together emergency assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, health, shelter, and community-based protection. Prevention involves a focus on disease-surveillance, rapid-response capacity at Health Centers and Clinics, and effective community and regional coordination. Below are key interventions listed by sector.
Most affected by the pandemic and the curfews/lockdowns are individuals who are not able to work and who are not afforded social protection from the State. Purchasing power has decreased and many people report not having enough cash fluidity to cover basic needs. Furthermore, lack of transportation has meant that many have not been able to access food and/or cash. Already vulnerable groups, like PwDs and the elderly, have also not been able to access health and medical assistance, and basic personal and household NFIs. The limited supply of essential goods and services has resulted in negative coping mechanisms including reducing meals and selling personal items. Peace Winds approach includes:
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Often Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) works separately from the health sector, but there is now a need for these activities to be considered essential public health intervention. Refugee and internally displaced people live in densely populated settings and rely on community facilities, such as shared water points and communal toilets, with access to water often intermittent and only available a few hours per day. The needed hand-washing standard which this pandemic requires, becomes unrealistic. Peace Winds specific WASH approach includes:
Community Education -- Behavior Change Strategies
Children’s education has been disrupted by closure of schools, and due to inadequate tools for remote education. Current camp-wide telecommunication blockages are inhibiting humanitarian actors from efficiently disseminating accurate messages about the current situation that are critical for COVID-19 prevention and preparedness, and countering harmful misinformation. Peace Winds community education approach includes:
Health Services -- Healthcare Worker Training
Of critical importance is training and equipping staff in the health facilities we are supporting to identify suspected cases, safely isolate patients, and temporarily care for and refer people showing symptoms to specialized testing and treatment centers. Community health workers and volunteers are the front line to communities on prevention of COVID-19 and ensuring people with symptoms receive care early. Peace Winds Health approach includes:
Sheltering plans, both long term and short term, are being reviewed to include considerations for things that may have not been considered before COVID-19. Peace Winds shelter approach includes:
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