HI team evaluate injured people needs after the earthquake at Bir Hospital – Nepal, April 2015 | © Dominique Pichard / HI (Archive HI)
HI is assessing its scope for action and plans to use its expertise in emergency situations and its experience of past epidemic situations to protect the most vulnerable.
The Covid-19 epidemic is spreading at a rapid rate in all the countries where the organisation works. Some are reporting their first cases, while others have already experienced an exponential rise in the number of cases and deaths. The spread of the coronavirus threatens to cause major health disasters in the sixty or so countries concerned.
HI remains committed to helping those most in need by continuing to assist its beneficiaries wherever possible, without exposing its teams to danger. The organisation is also preparing to adapt its response in the field. It intends to use its expertise in major epidemic situations to help people particularly exposed to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
HI has provided response in several major epidemics, in order to prevent their spread and protect local people. In Sierra Leone, in 2016, the organisation worked to contain the spread of the Ebola fever epidemic. As part of its response, our teams in the field managed the country’s only centralised ambulance service to transport patients suspected of being infected with Ebola and disinfected their homes in a district of Sierra Leone, including the capital Freetown. The ambulance service played a very important role in breaking the chain of transmission.
HI also helped prevent cholera epidemics in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake and severe floods in Pakistan in 2010, based on social mobilisation and awareness-raising activities. The organisation of information sessions for vulnerable people proved essential in base cases.
The organisation is examining how best to respond to the current, unprecedented crisis, and how to adapt its resources to this response. We plan to work within the Covid-19 response strategies implemented by national authorities in the countries in question and by all actors involved in pandemic response.
One of our goals will be to take into account the needs of vulnerable people, including older people and people with disabilities, but also people living very close to refugee camps who are particularly at risk.
Weak health systems combined with humanitarian crises increase the vulnerability of people living in the world’s poorest countries. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm on 19 March, when he spoke of the threat posed to the poorest countries faced with the spread of the epidemic. As 15% to 20% of patients require hospital care on average, and 6% intensive care, health systems in these countries will be unable to cope with the crisis alone.
HI will therefore take part in prevention actions and ensure awareness messages are adapted to people with disabilities and the most vulnerable.
We also plan to provide support to our local partners, such as disabled people’s organisations, and local authorities.
We will require additional resources, particularly financial, along with special equipment currently in short supply around the world, and which we only have in very small quantities at present. But we will do everything we can to protect as many people as possible and help break the Covid-19 chain of transmission. Thank you for helping us achieve this.