As the world comes together to fight an unprecedented pandemic, the poor and vulnerable communities that Malteser International serves continue relying on its services and expertise. For many people who face barriers to healthcare, Malteser International continues to be the main source of primary medical attention and public health information.
One of the key elements of our work involves helping communities protect themselves against infectious disease. In addition to ensuring access to clean water and nutritious food, we introduce safe hygiene practices and behaviors that can prevent the transmission of harmful viruses and bacteria.
We have implemented a series of changes in the way we work to protect our staff and beneficiaries, while maintaining our mandate of bringing health and dignity to the most in-need. Here are some examples of Malteser International’s COVID-19 response worldwide:
- In the United States, we distributed hand-sanitizers and face masks to parishes and meal centers throughout the eastern seaboard, including Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. We delivered food and water to pantries in Manhattan and partnered with the New York Police Department and members of the Order of Malta, American Association to deliver food.
- In Colombia, we have intensified our health and hygiene education activities, targeting migrants and refugees as well as local communities in the country’s La Guajira department. Health personnel have also received extensive training on protective measures for COVID-19. Additionally, we provided medical examinations for refugees and migrants at the Integrated Assistance Center (CAI) in Maicao and support UNHCR and the Colombian Ministry of Health in the elaboration of medical protocols for triage and treatment to prepare and strengthen local health systems. We are also using various information channels to share key messages on hygiene and COVID-19 prevention (e.g. training youth volunteers).
- In Peru, we have made adjustments to our project for the elderly, with house calls replacing group activities for the time being. The senior citizens receive information on preventive measures to avoid infection with COVID-19 during the house calls. They are also provided with hygiene articles, including soap.
- In Haiti, we are distributing flyers on COVID-19, hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces. We are reaching out to the elderly population with particular care and attention and provided safe drinking water equipment at the household level in the slums of Cité Soleil.
Middle East & Asia
- In Lebanon, Malteser International’s mobile medical service in Akkar and North-East Baalback continues to operate in accordance with the country’s containment strategy, coordinating with the municipalities on a regular basis and adapting itineraries and locations to the areas’ restrictions. Teams have been provided with personal protective equipment and have received additional training on safety measures. We are up to date on all COVID-19 reports from the World Health Organization and the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health.
- In Bangladesh, where we are working in refugee settlements to provide medical care and other services and we have set up hand washing stations in each of our health centers. Volunteers have been trained to educate the local community about the virus. They are also responsible for referring suspected cases to our health facilities for treatment. Our partner organization, Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) has developed test kits to help fight the outbreak of the coronavirus.
- In Afghanistan, we are supporting our partner UnionAid in measures to stop the spread of the virus in Kabul. Medical staff have received training on COVID-19, information on the virus and prevention measures have been provided to the public, and medicines, protective equipment, hygiene materials and oxygen cylinders have been stocked up in our health facilities.
- In Pakistan, Malteser International is increasing hygiene information campaigns as part of its work to strengthen communities against disaster. Local committees, established as part of Malteser International’s efforts in the region, have set up communal hand-washing points to mitigate the spread of the disease in their community.
- In the DR Congo, we are providing the public with information about the novel coronavirus through radio broadcasts, community education and posters. We are also offering consulting services to healthcare professionals, providing training on COVID-19 and helping to procure medical materials, such as masks and respiratory equipment. Isolation centers, which were used during the Ebola epidemic, have been put to use to treat suspected cases in isolation. Malteser International is also setting up hand washing stations and conducting simulation exercises with health workers.
- In Uganda, we are using behavioral change communication on hygiene and sanitation and distributing wash consumables like hand sanitizers, mainly for refugee populations and host communities Rhino Camp, and more is planned for the West Nile region. We are also providing an ambulance vehicle and building our local partner capacity on emergency response for COVID19.
For more information please visit www.orderofmaltarelief.org