International aid agency World Vision urges countries with strong health systems to support nations where children and their families experience conflict, poverty, refugee displacement and disease in order to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
The appeal comes on the back of yesterday’s announcement by the World Health Organization that transmission of the new and potentially deadly virus is now being treated as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)
“We are very concerned about countries that have weak health systems, which limited hospitals, health centres, doctors, nurses and monitoring systems. Many of these countries are either caught in conflict, have poor governance or are at the bottom of the development scale,” says Tom Davis, Global Sector Lead, Health and Nutrition. “If the virus enters these countries then it is going to be much more difficult to control. They need to be supported with health expertise and funding.”
While healthy people are better able to handle infection, it is known that the elderly and those with pre-existing chronic health issues are much more likely to become seriously ill or die from infection. Refugee and displacement camps and densely populated urban areas are also contexts where the virus could spread quickly.
“In many countries there are high rates of malnutrition, malaria, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrhoea which create a greater vulnerability to this virus,” said Tom Davis “We really need to stop the virus from crossing borders into these countries because very large numbers of people could be impacted. This is why rapid support from the international community is needed.”
The WHO’s declaration is designed to put countries on alert to do all they can to identify, isolate and care for those with the virus; to prevent transmission; and to help other countries that have weaker health systems.
World Vision has significant experience in working on disease outbreaks, including the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa (2014) and the DR Congo (2019) and Zika (2016) in Latin America. In those outbreaks World Vision worked with local health authorities, faith-based organisations, and our network of more than 220,000 CHWs to provide assessment and health education, to combat rumours and misinformation, and to help protect children and their families affected or impacted by the disease.
These were also declared by the WHO as outbreaks of international concern.
World Vision is monitoring the spread of this virus and in Asia is already working on plans to respond as appropriate and in support of government efforts. Our focus will be to ensure that the communities and children we work with as part of our development work are informed about how to stay safe.
For more information contact:
Director for Impact Communications, World Vision International
Mobile: +44 (0)7889400889 | Skype: jhbutter