Atlanta, GA: Africa has recorded the fewest cases of COVID-19 to date, but measures for the prevention of the spread of the virus have been implemented in many countries. The risks of disease transmission in countries which do not have a well-developed healthcare system are high. Supported by the International Emergency Services, Mission Support and International Health Services teams at International Headquarters in London, The Salvation Army is responding in numerous ways and supporting the endeavours 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. The Salvation Army is preparing 10 health information broadcasts for transmission across 26 community radio stations in the Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso areas. The broadcasts are being supported through the distribution of 10,000 flyers and the provision of health kits and hand sanitizer in targeted communities, in liaison with the National Epidemic Management Committee.
The 13 Salvation Army healthcare facilities in Ghana are fulfilling an essential role in supporting government efforts in dealing with suspected and confirmed outbreaks of coronavirus. The centers are being provided with 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 be issued with non-contact thermometers in order to reduce unnecessary contact between patients and healthcare team members. Health information and educational resources are also 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 underway endeavours to 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 improve public awareness of COVID-19 and the ways in which the spread can be countered. More than 100,000 people are predicted to see health messaging on five advertising hoardings rented by The Salvation Army. In addition, 12,000 families (60,000 individuals) are being provided with advice and handwashing materials.
A social media campaign focused on prevention, testing and treatment information will go live imminently in Nigeria, as part of the COVID-19 response in that country. 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. More than 20,000 units of hand sanitizer are being sourced in order to provide practical assistance in the fight against the virus.
In South Africa, which at 1,353* has the largest number of confirmed cases in the continent and is already 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 – at breakfast and supper time. The meals consist of fresh bread with a filling and fruit for breakfast, with the healthy evening meal including meat, vegetables and maize or rice. Education on coronavirus prevention measures is provided before every meal.
The sacrificial service by every team member as they work long hours was commended by Territorial Commander Colonel Daniel Kasuso, who visited the camps and was part of the serving team together with the Territorial President for Women’s Ministries, Colonel Tracey Kasuso.
The Salvation Army in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, is working in coordination with the country’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. An initial 30,000 individuals deemed to be at high risk of infection have been identified in the Temeke community and will be provided with 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 important locations such as bus stops.
Elderly people in the Mbare, Mufakose and Highfield regions of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, are being supported by The Salvation Army. Three hundred vulnerable individuals have been identified by the Department of Social Welfare and will be receiving essential food items so they do not need to venture out into these highly-populated areas. Rice, cooking oil, soya chunks, sugar and flour are being provided, as well as supplies of bottled water and soap. In addition, a further 700 individuals will be receiving soap and advice on good hygiene. Posters will augment the important healthcare messages at 600 locations across the three communities.
Meanwhile, 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 can be exchanged for essential groceries at the businesses permitted to remain open during this period. Hygiene advice will be supplied with the gift cards.
* World Health Organization data current at 9:40am GMT, 1 April 2020