"GOAL needs to respond as quickly as possible to help prepare the most vulnerable people for the coming outbreak."
We are living in extraordinary and challenging times. The world is in the throes of a grave health pandemic the likes of which none of us has experienced before.
While to date the impact of the COVID-19 virus has largely been limited to developed countries, its spread continues and is likely to overwhelm weak or limited healthcare systems in fragile countries where we work in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The virus is already confirmed in eight of the 13 countries where GOAL has operations. And as the pandemic spikes in the coming weeks and months, it will become much more difficult to reach affected areas and communities and critically needed funding and supplies will become more difficult to secure.
We are particularly concerned about the safety of displaced communities and refugees, living in temporary and cramped camps and reliant on daily food distributions from our staff. Many of these individuals are already high risk, due to malnutrition, ill health and poor living conditions.
Many of us at home are already experiencing the impact of Covid-19 on our society through self isolation and disruption to our normal routines. But it is difficult to describe how devastating an impact the virus could have on vulnerable communities in places like Syria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
For so many families in the countries we work, access to a doctor or hospital is already an impossibility. For others, who live in cramped conditions, the ability to self isolate is simply not realistic. That is the worrying reality that we must face as Covid-19 spreads across borders, through communities and among families.
So, what can we do? The good news is that there is much we can do to slow and reduce the spread and impact of the virus. GOAL has been working on a COVID-19 response for a number of weeks and we will draw on our extensive experience of emergency health work and infectious disease preparedness around the world.
GOAL responded to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014, rolling out prevention and infection control programmes, setting up and managing Ebola Treatment Units and engaging with communities on improving hygiene and health practices.
GOAL’s response to COVID-19 will include:
• Integrating and increasing key hygiene practices for Coronavirus in its existing humanitarian programmes
• Providing clean water and promoting safe hygiene and sanitation practices and infrastructure – including access to water supplies, storage containers and hand-washing stations to ensure that households can practise appropriate hygiene behaviours
• Undertaking social and behavioural change education programmes to increase awareness and understanding of the causes and effects of the virus in communities
• Collaborating with stakeholders to undertake infection, prevention and control within health facilities and
• Providing food and other necessities for those affected by the impact of the virus.
Action Orientated and Ready to Respond
GOAL has 2,500 courageous workers across the world, ready to respond in whatever way necessary to help the communities we support. The safety of our staff is paramount to us, and we will be taking every precaution to ensure their safety as they continue to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.
As our response scales up, in particular across our health and and community education programs, we will become increasingly reliant on the financial support of our donors to enable us to support and save the lives of the vulnerable people we work with.
You can support these efforts by making a donation online now. Your generosity will help the 2,500+ GOAL staff around the world who are on the front lines of this pandemic.