- The Government strengthens health measures to limit the spread of the virus
- The humanitarian community in Chad supports the Government's efforts to cope with the impact of COVID-19
- Some challenges remain to be overcome
- Security crisis in the Lac: a hidden war waged against local populations by non-state armed groups
- Towards an improvement of the living conditions of IDPs from Diamerom to Amma
COVID-19 in Chad: The Government and the humanitarian community join forces against the pandemic
On 19 March, Chad reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Three weeks later, a first local transmission was reported in N’Djamena. Since then, the number of infections has increased exponentially and, as of 30 May, Chad reports 778 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths in 11 provinces. Extreme poverty and limited health infrastructures exacerbate the vulnerability of the population. The mortality rate is currently 8.35 per cent, one of the highest in the region and in the world, partly explained by a shortage of tests, only performed on people with severe symptoms. The spread of the virus has rapidly accelerated since the beginning of May.
The Government strengthens health measures to limit the spread of the virus
Since the beginning of the health crisis, the Government has taken a series of measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, including: declaration of a state of health emergency, closing of borders, establishment of a curfew, restrictions on movement between provinces, ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, closure of worship places, schools, as well as cabarets, bars, casinos, game centres and restaurants.
On 16 May, a Health Crisis Management Committee (Comité de gestion de la Crise Sanitaire, CGCS) was created and placed under the authority of the President of the Republic, Idriss Déby. Composed of eight members, the Committee is in charge of leading the fight against COVID-19, in particular through the establishment of a national health response coordination led by scientists and dedicated to the fight against COVID-19, the creation of five specialized, inclusive sub-committees (on awareness raising, finance and orders, assistance to the poor, resource mobilization, and defense and security), the urgent request for essential medical equipment supplies, the acquisition of at least five mobile laboratories, the implementation of a strengthened action plan to support the 2020 agricultural campaign, the launch of food distribution operations for the poor, and the now-free distribution of masks.
The humanitarian community in Chad supports the Government's efforts to cope with the impact of COVID-19
Under the leadership of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in supporting the Government’s efforts and coordinating the overall health response to COVID-19, United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have started to implement various activities and initiatives on the prevention and response to the pandemic, in accordance with the updated 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the contingency plan prepared by the Government of Chad.
For example, awareness-raising initiatives for the population both in the capital and in the provinces - including IDP sites and refugee camps - direct awareness-raising campaigns for health representatives, training of trainers for health personnel on infection prevention and control (IPC) / WASH, as well as IPC / WASH assessments of health facilities in the capital and in the provinces. Efforts have also been made to ensure that official communications on prevention from the Ministry of Public Health are translated into local languages and disseminated through various community outreach channels, including radio.
Population movements related to COVID-19 have been monitored, in particular along land entry points, and assistance in food, health and non-food items for students returning from Cameroon has been provided during their stay in quarantine centers.
Epidemiological research capacities in the capital and in certain regions (e.g. Abéché) have been strengthened as well as the capacities of different laboratories in the country in identifying cases. Similarly, surveillance teams monitoring suspicious contacts have been expanded. As to the responses previously planned, humanitarian organizations have adapted their activities to comply with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Particular emphasis has been placed on raising awareness at community level, providing hygiene kits and handwashing stations in public places, training healthcare workers on COVID-19 and providing unconditional cash transfers, among others.
It should be noted that on 10 May, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) signed a provisional agreement with the Ministry of Public Health to allow its team to provide epidemiological monitoring of COVID-19, promotion of health and hygiene, and the treatment of cases in public health centers in N'Djamena and other regions in order to relieve some of the burden from the public health system.
Some challenges remain to be overcome
The Government is supporting the continuation of humanitarian action during this crisis. Current preventive measures do not, in principle, affect the transport of humanitarian goods. However, as restrictions on movement are tightened, it has become more difficult to ensure humanitarian access in some areas. Certain activities have been suspended due to the stricter application of confinement measures in certain provinces, which has made it difficult for humanitarian personnel to move outside of urban centers, including N'Djamena.
In order to ensure the essential running of humanitarian actors’ operations in the field, the Government has granted special authorizations allowing the circulation of United Nations agencies and international NGOs to support critical programmes in each province: health emergency, food distribution, WASH and shelter programmes, and vaccination campaigns. Humanitarian actors ensure all necessary precautions are taken and follow appropriate standard operating procedures during their movements and programme implementation, in order to reduce any potential transmission of COVID-19 through humanitarian action itself. Although the emergency response to COVID-19 warrants special attention, the existing challenges faced by the Chadian population should not be neglected. The rainy season has begun and already caused some population displacements following floods and destruction of shelters. Food insecurity is expected to worsen during the upcoming lean season. The Lac province is experiencing an increase in criminal activity by non-state armed groups, which could result in new population movements in the province and across the borders. The measles epidemic remains a major concern, since 1 January 2020, 8,026 cases and 37 deaths have been reported: 28 districts (out of 126) have been confirmed to be in an epidemic situation since the beginning of the year.
For more information, please consult:
Documents and useful links on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chad https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/chad/covid-19 WHO situation reports on Coronavirus disease (COVID19) in Chad https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/op%C3%A9rations/chad/documents/themes/covid19/organizations/world-health-organization