COVID-19 continues to sweep global news headlines, with updates each hour informing us of the latest number of reported cases and quarantine measures. Everywhere you turn, people are stocking up on essentials, working remotely, or even on lockdown. In fact, it’s hard not to talk about the novel coronavirus. During such times, many people can feel anxiety about the future.
Yet, our God is sovereign. The Bible says that God knows every day of our lives, even before we were born. Nothing escapes God’s sight or is out of God’s control. As the world despairs, we have hope, and we are called to extend this hope to others. Worldwide, Food for the Hungry (FH) is monitoring the situation in some of the most vulnerable hotspots on the globe, shielding vulnerable communities from a potential coronavirus outbreak. We are doubling down on our health and hygiene messaging in our fields—some of the same messaging you are likely receiving in inboxes about the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on washing your hands. Here’s how.
In places like refugee camps, crowded conditions and poor hygiene can increase infection rates. FH is working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, running four health clinics and training community health workers alongside partner Medical Teams International. Thankfully, there are no cases of COVID-19 reported in the Rohingya refugee camp to date. Still, we are deploying additional, preventative measures to pre-empt such an outbreak, which would be devastatingly disastrous for the vulnerable population.
We are also working with Bangladesh‘s Ministry of Health and UN’s Refugee Commission. Together, we are ensuring the provision of supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer. Preparations are underway for quarantine procedures, the lab capacity to test cases, and house isolation units. In the meantime, community health workers are sharing key health and hygiene practices in ways that combat stigma around the coronavirus, but without inciting fear.
This Cascade Group model—in which health and hygiene messaging is taught and “cascaded” through community members—has long been a core part of FH’s health programming around the world, preventing diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, and more.
We are urging further commitments to fight this disease, and stop further COVID-19 outbreaks before they impact communities living in extreme poverty, especially in the remote areas where we work. Access to health facilities is often limited. In crowded refugee camps or dense cities, a potential coronavirus outbreak could increase strains on already under-resourced doctors, hospitals, and supplies.
We also seek strength in prayer and invite you to pray with us.
Dear Loving Creator,
Lord, you are the healer of all and you fill our hearts with hope through your love. We come to you in prayer today to ask for your protection and healing hands in the midst of the global spread of coronavirus.
We pray that you heal those who have fallen sick with this illness. May they regain their health and recover quickly. We also pray for those who have already lost loved ones to this disease. Fill them with your peace and protection as they mourn.
Please help us come to you for hope and guidance during this time of uncertainty. It’s through your grace that we can remain calm and do what is necessary to keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy and encouraged. We ask for your peace in place of our anxiety.