Weekly round up - 6 July 2020
Each week we will be sharing a round-up of the picture from our country teams as they mobilise to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our work during this time has four goals:
1. Life Saving Information. Ensuring disabled people receive accessible and accurate information on how to protect themselves and their families.
2. Social Support. Identifying people with disabilities most at risk during lockdowns and ensuring necessary supplies – like food, water, medicine – are safely delivered. Utilising remote peer-to-peer support mechanics to reach those most isolated.
3. Access To Medical Support. Ensuring disabled people have equal access to COVID-19 testing and treatment services.
4. Long Term Protection. Supporting powerholders to create inclusive alternative livelihood options for disabled people and implement emergency social protection schemes.
The crisis remains extremely concerning in Bangladesh, where there are now 162,000 COVID-19-infected people. There will be another Eid festival this month, and the markets will be busy. This will carry potential risk for the spreading of COVID-19 in the next few weeks. Experts are predicting that mid-August will be the transmissions peak. A lot of stigma and misinformation persists. The government are saying 50% of hospital beds are vacant, but other people are saying that they have been turned away from hospitals because there is no space. Low-income people are eating two meals in 3 days. Many people are afraid of the economic situation. Our response work continues. With support from the EU we have been delivering community radio talks and working with local folk song teams to prepare COVID-19 messages. These will be broadcast on radio, YouTube and other social media channels. People are extensively using the handwashing units, that we created with CAFOD and these are well maintained. Our use of emergency cash support for DPO members is getting very positive feedback. People are telling us that it has been a real lifeline. We are preparing a survey to collect evidence on the impact of these and exploring how to provide psych-social counselling to traumatised people.
The situation in Cambodia remains stable. There are only ten active cases and no deaths.
There is an increase of cases in all states, though the government doesn’t have an accurate picture because people with COVID-19 are not coming forward because of stigma. The lockdown restrictions have impacted medical supplies. Medical support, supplies and medicines are scarce across the country. Only 15% of medical supplies are available; this has an impact on common diseases like malaria, where there are currently 672,000 reported cases in the country. An international conference in Berlin to coordinate support for Sudan has pledged 1.8 billion in relief. The government is providing a family support programme for vulnerable families to support them through the challenging economic crisis. We are looking into reopening the office as staff are facing considerable power shortages at home.
The situation in Tanzania has not changed and the government is still providing no official updates or information. All schools reopened last week with none of the government guidelines referencing the specific needs of children with disabilities. We are working now to ensure that these are included in the national guidelines. The government are encouraging people to think of COVID-19 as a disease like HIV that is here to stay and we will have to find ways to resume life with it part of our reality.
COVID-19 rates are continuing to rise slowly. The source of infection remains in two hot-spots at the borders with Tanzania and South Sudan. Lockdown is easing though schools remain closed. We are preparing more COVID-19 materials for dissemination by the end of the week.