Coronavirus Pandemic: Focus on Africa and Middle East

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Africa has recorded the fewest cases of COVID-19 to date, but many countries have implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The risks of disease transmission are high in countries that do not have a well-developed healthcare system. The Salvation Army, via its teams at International Headquarters—International Emergency Services, Mission Support and International Health Services—is supporting the endeavors of national governments in reducing the propagation of the pathogen. 

Examples of coronavirus responses include a public awareness-raising campaign in Burkina Faso, which has recorded 261 confirmed cases to date, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Salvation Army is preparing 10 health information broadcasts for transmission across 26 community radio stations in the Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso areas. To support the broadcasts, 10,000 flyers will be distributed to targeted communities, along with health kits and hand sanitizer, in liaison with the National Epidemic Management Committee.

The 13 Salvation Army healthcare facilities in Ghana are supporting government efforts in dealing with suspected and confirmed outbreaks of coronavirus. The centers are receiving personal protective equipment sufficient for their more than 850 professionals and support staff, as well as for healthcare volunteers. Additional supplies of hand sanitizer and handwashing materials are being secured, and the centers will also receive non-contact thermometers. Health information and educational resources are being produced and distributed countrywide.  

The Salvation Army’s Kenya West Territory is working with the national health ministry and other primary stakeholders at national, county and local levels, as well as the Kenyan Red Cross, National Council of Churches and the media. The project will disseminate information about the coronavirus to communities in Kakamega, Kolanya and Migori. Printed materials will support the government’s health information campaign, and up to 7,500 vulnerable individuals will receive antibacterial soap and gloves. 

Mass communications are also part of The Salvation Army’s strategy in Liberia, where—through the William Booth Clinic—information leaflets, banners and posters are being printed to convey key hygiene and social distancing messaging. Necessary materials such as buckets, soaps and sanitizers are also being provided, benefiting around 2,500 people in the Montserrado and Margibi counties. 

In Mali, The Salvation Army is seeking to increase public awareness of COVID-19 and how to prevent it. The Salvation Army expects more than 10,000 people to see health messaging on five rented advertising hoardings (similar to billboards). In addition, 60,000 individuals are receiving advice and handwashing materials. 

A social media campaign focused on COVID-19 prevention, testing and treatment information will soon go live in Nigeria. The Salvation Army aims to reach at least one million people through this initiative, as well as through the distribution of 250,000 health information flyers. Large posters and banners displayed in public places across the country will support the messaging, and more than 20,000 units of hand sanitizer are being sourced. 

According to WHO, South Africa has 1,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases—the largest number in Africa—and is one week into a national lockdown. The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster team is working relentlessly to feed nearly 1,200 homeless people. The individuals have been assembled into three camps in the Pretoria area and The Salvation Army has been designated as camp managers for these sites, a 24/7 undertaking. Food is provided twice a day, for breakfast and supper. The meals consist of fresh bread with a filling and fruit for breakfast, and a healthy evening meal including meat, vegetables and maize or rice. Education on coronavirus prevention measures is provided before every meal.  

Territorial Commander Colonel Daniel Kasuso commended the sacrificial service by every team member as they work long hours. He visited the camps and was part of the serving team with the Territorial President for Women’s Ministries, Colonel Tracey Kasuso. 

The Salvation Army in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, is working with the country’s Ministry of Health and the WHO. An initial 30,000 individuals deemed to be at high risk of infection in the Temeke community will receive handwashing materials, including soap, sanitizer and buckets. A public address system will be deployed to share vital healthcare messages, and handwashing facilities will be made available at locations such as bus stops. 

In Zimbabwe, The Salvation Army is supporting elderly people in the Mbare, Mufakose and Highfield regions of Harare, the country’s capital. The Department of Social Welfare has identified 300 vulnerable individuals who will be receiving essential food items so they do not need to venture out into these highly-populated areas. The items include rice, cooking oil, soya chunks, sugar and flour, along with bottled water and soap. In addition, a further 700 individuals will receive soap and advice on good hygiene. Posters will augment the healthcare messages at 600 locations across the three communities.

In the Middle East, The Salvation Army in Kuwait continues to distribute essential food items in collaboration with the International Community Centre. This work will develop further as more funds are made available.

The Salvation Army is coordinating with other Christian churches in the United Arab Emirates to provide food assistance to individuals and families struggling to make ends meet. For at least the next three weeks, all non-essential businesses in the emirates are closed, while some employees have already been out of work for a month with no income. In Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, The Salvation Army and partner churches have seen a large increase in the number of people requesting food aid. Rent payments have left families with no money to buy food. In order to address this, The Salvation Army has procured supermarket gift cards for around 230 people, which they can use at the businesses permitted to remain open during this period. Hygiene advice will be supplied with the gift cards.

IHQ Communications International Headquarters

 

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