CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Response in Middle East

 

Iraq

The Iraq team is providing frontline health workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), ensuring their safety as they continue delivering primary healthcare services to IDPs and host populations in camp and non-camp settings across the country. In camps in the Ninewah province, our medical teams monitor new arrivals and place suspected COVID-19 patients in designated quarantine areas. The team is also securing additional PPE and delivering training to frontline health workers on COVID-19 prevention and management, to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries as program activities continue. The team also is seeking funding to cover pandemic-response activities and integrating them into our existing healthcare and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs. The aim is to support hospitals in targeted locations by helping people living in displacement camps in Mosul, as well as vulnerable people living in Ninewa, Salah Al-Din and Anbar, to access essential healthcare services. In addition, the community outreach team is using in-person sessions, social media and radio broadcasting to raise awareness about the risks of COVID-19 and how to prevent it. Though households are no longer in lockdown and movement restrictions have eased, populations continue to experience increased mental and emotional distress. To improve the well-being of affected populations, our mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) team is conducting case management and follow-up remotely. This includes raising awareness about stress-coping techniques. To reach an as wide audience as possible, our MHPSS teams are using social media platforms to disseminate key messages. With the increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) for women and girls who may be confined at home with abusers, the Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces in the camps that we support in Mosul have remained open, with physical distancing and hand hygiene measures in place to help prevent transmission of COVID-19. GBV case management is also being provided remotely via the phone or WhatsApp to survivors who consent to such follow-ups.

 

Jordan

International Medical Corps’ team in Jordan continues to operate vital lifesaving health services across the country. All health services in Azraq and Zaatari Refugee Camps, as well as in Irbid, remain ongoing, with non-lifesaving services—such as outpatient sexual and reproductive health—resumed to full capacity. International Medical Corps is providing a range of services related to COVID-19 to an estimated 40,000 people living inside Azraq Refugee Camp, where cases have now been confirmed. In particular, working with camp management, International Medical Corps has deployed a medical team to the camp’s entry and exit points to measure the temperature of anyone entering or exiting the camp. In addition, we have established a 10-patient isolation area (now in the process of increasing its capacity to 50 beds) inside the camp where immediate treatment can be provided to suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. In addition, the health team in the camp continues to provide awareness sessions on COVID-19 to residents, as well as NGO and security staff. Working with the Ministry of Health and the Jordanian Psychiatrist Society, International Medical Corps has established a 24/7 psychosocial support hotline in Jordan, staffed by our mental health team, to respond to the growing mental health needs in the face of COVID-19. As curfew restrictions now have been lifted in the country, International Medical Corps’ team in Jordan has resumed face-to-face mental health consultations, as well as child protection and nutrition services, for refugees and vulnerable Jordanians. However, we continue to conduct all group psychosocial support activities remotely, in accordance with government regulations.

 

Lebabon

The explosion in Beirut has caused many COVID-19 precautionary measures to be relaxed, raising the prospects of even higher transmission rates and a large caseload in the coming weeks. We are working to link our response to COVID-19 to our response to the explosion. To date, the team has distributed PPE—including masks, gloves and gowns—to 27 healthcare facilities, and other medical supplies to 23. We also delivered PPE to more than 2,000 volunteers who are working to remove debris and repair damaged homes. Before the blast, our team had developed a COVID-19 contingency plan to address disruptions caused by the outbreak and related restrictions on movement. This involved procuring additional PPE and infection prevention and control (IPC) supplies—including hand sanitizers, sterilization alcohol, gloves, masks and soap—to protect frontline health workers. The team has also raised awareness about COVID-19 among community residents and provided psychological first-aid training to frontline workers. We are collaborating closely with the government and partner NGOs, participating in sub-working groups of national COVID-19 taskforces. So far, 39 facilities that we support have screened more than 248,140 people for COVID-19 symptoms. We also have distributed more than 2.3 million PPE and IPC items to International Medical Corps-supported centers and safe spaces for women and girls. In the wake of the Beirut explosion, we distributed 488,940 PPE items to primary health clinics, hospitals and mobile medical units. In Tripoli and Akkar, we are the health lead for the Rapid Response Teams, an initiative coordinated by UNHCR that works to mitigate the spread and damage of the virus among refugee communities. Our team is also developing activities and guidance for MHPSS support during the pandemic and continues to attend national COVID-19 taskforce meetings.

 

Syria

International Medical Corps’ team in Damascus continues to distribute hand sanitizer to beneficiaries who attend COVID-19 awareness sessions. To ensure the safety of staff, PPE and similar supplies are being provided to essential workers at our clinics. The team has provided thousands of bars of soap to rural areas near Damascus for immediate distribution, and has been contributing to hygiene campaigns by providing vehicles and raising awareness about COVID-19. The team is redirecting some supplies previously planned for use within regular programming to a COVID-specific response in schools coordinated by UNICEF, donating 177,000 bars of soap to two NGOs—partners of the Ministry of Education—for distribution to students in four governorates. As of today, more than 62,000 bars have been distributed.

 

Turkey

Due to the increased COVID-19 infection risk in health facilities, and to ease the pressure on public hospital ICUs, the Ministry of Health has decided that suitably assessed patients can continue their treatment at home. To support the early discharge of such patients, International Medical Corps is providing them with life-saving medical equipment—including oxygen concentrators, aspirator devices, nebulizers and pulse oximeters—through two local partners, helping 395 discharged patients since early March. In June, as government hospitals resumed a range of non-essential medical services, the team continued to provide individual health assistance to non-COVID cases—especially those with disabilities—supplying, among other things, hearing devices, prosthesis and orthosis. In July, the team provided online psychosocial first-aid training, aiming to strengthen psychological intervention skills during emergencies. In September, the team also donated PPE and IPC items—including 465,000 face masks, 310,000 disposable gloves, 1,120 hand sanitizers, 585 thermometers and 24,500 goggles—to five government institutions. Working with our partners as well as the Turkish government, we have trained 82 people in IPC, including the proper use of PPE. The team has adapted existing mental health, protection and physical rehabilitation services to respond to increased needs and context changes related to the pandemic, and continues to provide them through phone and video calls. Since March, 8,754 beneficiaries have taken part in COVID-related awareness sessions and COVID-focused mental health awareness sessions. Since March, a call center operated by our partner has received thousands of calls, reaching beneficiaries across more than 60 cities in Turkey. In addition, we have reached several thousand people through protection and mental health awareness sessions tailored to the pandemic. Since June, the team has reached 1,397 of the most vulnerable households, providing food and sanitary kits in 26 different provinces.

 

Yemen

In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Population, our healthcare team is sharing COVID-19 case management and education guidelines with health facility staff. We have trained 431 frontline health workers, community health volunteers and staff on COVID-19 case management and prevention methods, and provided 23 health facilities with cleaning materials—including gloves, waterproof overalls and soap—to strengthen infection control. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, we also have trained community health volunteers (CHVs) on how to prevent and treat COVID-19. For example, our team has provided CHVs with materials on how to prevent and treat COVID-19 for them to distribute in their communities, reaching more than 850 residents, as well as to health facilities that we support in Sana’a. Despite the global shortage of protective equipment, our team in Yemen has been able to source and distribute more than 700,000 PPE and IPC items—including masks, gloves, gowns, sanitizers and soap—to health facilities, health workers and other staff members. In addition, we donated 16,000 N95 masks to an NGO that runs treatment centers for moderate to severe COVID-19. These centers had been in danger of shutting down operations due to the lack of PPE. We are supporting the efforts of the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO, to implement an innovative concept called community shielding, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in crowded conditions. It is based on social isolation principles that recognize the challenges of complying with social distancing and prevention measures in over-populated displacement sites. All health facilities supported by the organization continue to provide care, so far screening at least 115,408 beneficiaries and referring 576 patients who fit the criteria for suspected COVID-19. Three mobile units and two ambulances deployed in the south of the country also provide primary health services as well as COVID-19 referrals, and we continue to raise awareness about COVID-19 through a variety of means, including in person, via radio and through print media.

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Global Response: COVID-19

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