HHA COVID-19 Response
19 March 2020 11:11
With the COVID-19 situation evolving every day, we'll be using this page to provide regular updates on HHA’s response to keep those not connected to social media aware and able to pray and support our efforts:
Wednesday 29th July
SUPPORT OUR HAITI HEROES
We remain incredibly grateful and humbled for the amazing support so many have offered to us during these difficult months. Together, we've made a big impact. In the last month this incredible team (pictured above) have provided life-saving care to 18 suspected COVID19 cases at our Isolation Ward. They have worked with great courage, determination and unity, delivering an excellent service with limited resources. They have faced incredibly tragic situations which have shaken them as individuals and a team, but also provided incredibly inspiring care too which has saved lives. Alongside this teams efforts, our community team have provided support to hundreds more, working passionately each day to provide education and prevention in the community.
HHA have invested a significant amount of time, resources and funds to establish this work. Whilst we are incredibly grateful COVID19 numbers in Haiti have significantly slowed down in the last weeks and currently remain lower than many other countries (now 7,300 cases), we remain conscious that things can change quickly. We also remain realistic that we will need to equip our partner hospital with the means to provide safe isolation for suspected patients for a long time to come.
This summer we're asking you to get behind our Haiti Heroe's so we can continue providing Haiti with the support it needs. If you haven't yet seen our Emergency Appeal film, please take a few minutes to watch it below. If you're able to make a donation, do a collection at your church or work, or carry out your own safe fundraising challenge, we'd welcome your support. Together, we can make a real difference!
Thursday 16th July
The team have done an incredible job in the last few weeks running our COVID19 Isolation ward in Haiti, providing life-saving care for 15 patients so far, with some great success stories. One family said, 'we are so grateful you are helping us, you make us happy you are making him better'. It was a huge encouragement seeing the smile on Rob's face (HHA Volunteer in Haiti), when we had our first successful discharge.
Haiti has had 6,900+ cases and whilst numbers continue to rise, we are grateful the speed of growth has slowed down in the last few weeks. However, our Medical Director in Haiti remains concerned, highlighting that some people are refusing to get tested, in part due to on-going stigma. Other patients with COVID19 symptoms aren't presenting at hospitals or are self-discharging once admitted. The main airport in Haiti is also opening again and some are fearful that an influx of international arrivals will increase the cases. We are incredibly proud of all our front line team in Haiti, those screening patients, those in the community still carrying out vital education/prevention and those in the isolation unit. There is no doubt lives have been saved thanks to this work and your support.
Whilst Uganda continues to lag behind Haiti in terms of numbers, the social and economic impact continues to have a significant impact. We'll be announcing some big news about a major East Africa response HHA is leading on in the coming week.
Thank you for your continued support. It is still very much needed. In the coming week we will be launching an Emergency Appeal to encourage people to continue their support as HHA continues to respond over the summer.
Tuesday 30th June
At the end of last week, the Medical Director of our partner hospital made the difficult decision to open up our joint COVID19 Ward. The WHO certified our unit as one of the official COVID19 facilities for Haiti, a facility that will provide life-saving care in northern Haiti.
The brief film below gives a short tour of the new unit by HHA volunteer Rob who has been helping to coordinate efforts on the ground.
We are now accepting applications for volunteers interested in supporting our emergency efforts in Haiti over the coming months. If you have medical, project management or other relevant experience/skills that you feel may be valuable at this time, please contact us today: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 22nd June
Haiti now has over 5,200 confirmed COVID19 cases, though lab testing remains incredibly restricted. Whilst the numbers in Uganda are lower (770 confirmed cases), the growth has increased by 48% from two weeks ago. However, alongside the immediate health challenges of COVID19, there are also other rapidly growing socio-economic challenges for countries like Uganda. As we've reported before, rations in the refugee settlements have reduced by 30% increasing the risks of food insecurity for the most vulnerable.
That's why we were delighted to see our Community Based Rehabilitation team in action over the weekend, distributing essential food supplies and soap to 100 vulnerable refugees displaced by the South Sudan war, most with disabilities. Thanks to the support of some amazing donors we were able to provide maize, beans and cooking oil. This is an important part of our COVID19 response and we have some exciting news to announce later in the week about imminent plans to scale this part of our response up.
In Haiti, staff have now been identified for our COVID19 Isolation Ward, and HHA long-term volunteer Rob will be initiating training this week so that we're ready to open as needed. A huge thanks for the on-going prayers and support of so many during these challenging times.
Some pictures of the food distribution below, sent by our community team in Uganda over the weekend:
Tuesday 2nd June
In the last few weeks COVID19 numbers in Haiti have rapidly grown. A few days ago there were 2,226 confirmed cases, a significant increase from our last update (230 cases - 15th May). We have subsequently been hard at work completing the hospital's Isolation ward. Following the WHO's visit, we have now been certified as one of the countries 14 recognised COVID19 centres. This is an incredible achievement for the local team and reflects the hard work and commitment to excellence of HHA and our partner hospital. As a result of this, just in the last few days we've received some valuable supplies from the Government of Haiti to improve the unit, including 20 new beds which will replace the old ones we were using. Thanks to the support of The Haiti Health Trust and Konbit Sante we were also able to get some new oxygen concentrators to Haiti to assist with more reliable oxygen.
However, staffing the unit remains a challenge. With the hospitals staff having had their hours and pay reduced in light of financial struggles about a month ago, existing services are already stretched. We are working with the Ministry of Health to find solutions and are hopeful this will be overcome soon. But, with confirmed cases rising rapidly and suspected cases presenting themselves at the hospital more regularly, opening the unit is looking imminent. This will require our full support as HHA continues to provide funding for the hospitals COVID19 response, alongside keeping other services operating at full capacity. Whilst numbers reduce in the UK and some restrictions are lifted, please continue to remember and pray for countries like Haiti who now start entering their peaks, but with very limited resources.
We will provide a further update about the situation in Uganda in the coming week as we scale up efforts there to meet the growing food insecurity indirectly caused by COVID19 amongst the refugee population. Further updates on Haiti also to follow...
Friday 15th May
It has been another busy week for HHA as concern grows with rising numbers of COVID19 in Haiti. There are now over 230 confirmed cases. Whilst this number is still low in comparison to some countries, the numbers have doubled in the last week. The hospital has had a few suspected cases and final preparations are still being made on the isolation ward.
It was a huge encouragement for the staff to receive a formal visit and training from the World Health Organization (WHO) this week (as pictured below). Our hospital chapel was filled with staff for training. The WHO team also reviewed our protocols and visited our triage area and isolation set up. They were very encouraged and supportive of what we've achieved and were able to assist with some offers of materials.
At the same time, thanks to the support of Konbit Sante, we've been able to scale up efforts in the community in the last week. More on that to come...
But, behind the frontline courage of our medical staff in Haiti is an equally courageous and hard working administration team. Yesterday we had a long but productive meeting looking at the hospitals financial position. Running a hospital in a setting like Haiti is a tough challenge even at the best of times. The last year has made that even more difficult with political instability pushing the country into an economic free fall, with double digit inflation that according to some reports has pushed the costs of some medical supplies up by 35%. COVID19 adds and intensifies many of these challenges and our update from 27th March called 'Can we financially survive this whole crisis?' remains a pertinent and real question we battle to overcome.
The next weeks will be hard for the hospital on many fronts and we'd ask for your continued support and prayers.
Here's a another little vlog from Rob in Haiti, this time looking at the preparations of the Isolation Ward...
Monday 11th May
This week we'll be uploading a few vlogs from Haiti about some of the various aspects to our COVID19 response. Here's a little 1 min update from Rob in Haiti, on the triage area that HHA helped set up at our partner hospital. It's operational 24/7 and screens as many as 900+ people in a single day. Pop back in the next few days for an update on our Isolation Ward preparations, as we see COVID19 numbers starting to creep up in Cap-Haitien.
COVID19 numbers starting to creep up in Cap-Haitien:
Friday 8th May
Our apologies for not updating this page sooner. It's been a busy few weeks as we continue to respond to COVID19 in Haiti and Uganda. In Haiti, we've been involved in a range of coordination meetings, including with the Ministry of Health and the heads of several of the other major hospitals in northern Haiti.
Since our earlier updates, our COVID19 Triage area has screened over 17,600 patients, staff and family members before they enter the hospital. This provides us with the opportunity to identify people with suspected Coronavirus early so we can respond to their needs and protect our inpatients in other departments.
The confirmed cases in Haiti remain low in comparison to the UK with 129 confirmed cases (as of 6th May), but numbers are slowly creeping up and Cap-Haitien (our target region) has now had 5 new cases confirmed. There are of course challenges in this context with access to adequate testing, so these numbers do not reflect suspected cases.
In response to this we have been busy preparing our COVID19 Isolation Ward, a 20 bed facility on standby for any spike in the region. Preparations have included purchasing new Oxygen concentrators, upgrading the electrical system so it can support those concentrators and making temporary screens, new hand washing facilities etc. Alongside the infrastructural improvements we've been working hard on PPE efforts, other materials and staffing. Next week a representative from WHO will be visiting the hospital to provide further training to our staff in addition to the work our local team have been doing. None of this is easy when the additional costs of such an emergency response will be a huge strain for HHA and the hospital.
Alongside our facility based efforts, our community health team have been working hard preparing our local area. We're grateful to partner Konbit Sante who are helping to facilitate this and providing valuable support. Please continue to support our efforts and once again, a huge thanks for everyone who has kindly donated or done some fundraising from home! More updates next week, including a video update from our team on the ground.
Pictures 1) Good friends, MFK, provide a generator to provide back up support for the Isolation ward. 2) Staff attend COVID19 training on a webinar and 3) the hospitals Sports Centre starts to be transformed into the new Isolation Ward.
WEDNESDAY 22nd APRIL
According to a new UN Report, the world risks 'biblical' famines due to COVID19. The head of The World Food Programme has called for urgent action in order to avoid the catastrophe. The BBC quoted a report predicting that the numbers of people suffering from hunger could rise from 135million to more than 250million. Of great concern for HHA, both Haiti and South Sudan (two of the three countries we operate in) were amongst the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019. 61% of the South Sudanese population were estimated to being in food crises and 35% of Haitians.
We have already seen the impact of COVID19 and food insecurity first hand in the South Sudanese refugee settlements in Uganda. Due to funding shortages, the World Food Programme has had to reduce monthly food rations for the refugee population by 30%. This is directly impacting some of our team on the ground and will no doubt have a significant impact on food security and malnutrition rates.
We are incredibly grateful to partners Edesia who donated HHA 300,000 sachets of a therapeutic food called Plumpy’Nut at the start of this year. Plumpy’Nut helps to tackle severe and acute malnutrition and this shipment is now being used by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in their refugee response.
However, we need to do more. The stark forecasts of the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises remind us that there are significant repercussions of COVI19 on the worlds most vulnerable and that it's critical we remember this is a global crisis and respond accordingly. If you'd like to respond and help our COVID19 response and help those in Haiti, Uganda and South Sudan, please take part in the 2.6 Challenge.
More information here: JOIN HHA IN THE 2.6 CHALLENGE
Also, on behalf of all the team, a huge thanks to everyone who's already set up a 2.6 Challenge, fundraised or donated. It's been a great encouragement to us during these challenging times.
THURSDAY 16th APRIL
We're excited to be part of the 2.6 Challenge, a campaign to save the UK's Charities. Here's why...
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect with the cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income through fundraising events. The Virgin Money London Marathon alone, which should have taken place on Sunday 26 April, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event.
Hope Health Action, like so many charities across the UK, has been hugely impacted by the cancellation of thousands of fundraising events due to COVID-19. In response, the organisers of the biggest mass participation sports events across the country have come together to create a new campaign to raise vital funds to help our fundraising and save the UK’s charities.
The campaign, The 2.6 Challenge, will launch on Sunday 26 April 2020 – what should have been the date of the 40th London Marathon. The challenge will last for a week. The 2.6 Challenge is open to anyone of any age – the only requirement is that the activity must follow the Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing and remember to stay local.
From Sunday 26 April 2020, we are asking you to dream up an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and fundraise by donating to Hope Health Action. Check out the 2.6 website and choose to fundraise or donate to HHA. You'll be able to find us on the website along with exciting ideas of what you could do. Whoever you are, whatever age, please get behind us during this critical time so we can continue our lifesaving work in Haiti and East Africa.
SUPPORT HHA: JOIN THE 2.6 CHALLENGE TODAY
SATURDAY 11th APRIL
I want to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to faithfully and generously donate towards our work in the last weeks, especially when we appreciate the financial concerns many are facing in light of COVID19. We've also been blessed and encouraged by people's prayers, offers to volunteer and fundraising efforts. The brother of Rob, one of our team in Haiti, has raised over £2,500 by shaving his hair to support our effort. Amazing! Another set of supporters are doing an online fundraising concert next Saturday.
I'd also like to especially thank our team in Haiti who, under incredibly challenging circumstances, have now got the hospital's COVID19 Triage and Assessment area fully operational! Everyone is now being screened before entering the main hospital ensuring we can try and protect all our staff and patients. In the first 24 hours of this new triage area we screened over 1,200 people. We are pleased to have this in place at the start of this journey, with the confirmed number of coronavirus patients in Haiti standing at 31, with two deaths. However, it is important to recognise that with only one place in the country currently able to test for COVID19 and the challenges of capturing accurate data in such settings, this may not present the full picture.
Getting our triage area operational was the first phase of our response but there is a lot more to be done. This includes supporting our Community Health Workers with their efforts in the community, preparing the hospital in the event that we see COVID19 develop in the same way we've witnessed in the UK and US, and finding ways to support the most vulnerable families from Maison de Benediction, our respite centre for children with disabilities. Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close this centre for now, alongside outpatient rehab, in order to try and protect these most vulnerable families.
We are also starting to look at how we can aid the network of vulnerable families with disabilities we support in the refugee settlements of Uganda. Uganda now has 53 confirmed cases, but COVID19 presents a huge threat to the refugee settlements where access to adequate hand washing, social distancing and self isolation present incredible challenges. We'd also ask you to remember and pray for South Sudan, who now also have 4 confirmed cases.
These are uncertain times and there are so many un-knowns to contend with in the forseeable future as we prepare to battle this on the medical and financial front. However, the faith of so many of our team around the world this Easter remains an inspiration. I love this picture of our Head of Administration (Immacula) and Rob, one of our HHA team in Haiti. Immacula is doing a great job steering the hospital through uncertain financial times, and Rob is doing a great job helping to lead our medical interventions.
Writing this update in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday seems apt, when many of our team like Rob and Immacula around the world reflect on that uncertainty of what the original disciples felt after witnessing Jesus crucified, sat in a hopeless sense of 'what now?' But this Easter, we once again cling onto that well known quote, 'It's Friday, but Sunday's coming.' We have hope, an incredible hope, and it's our prayer this easter that, for our dear friends in Haiti, Uganda and South Sudan, as they face that question of 'what now?', they'll know that hope in a very real and powerful way. That's also our hope and prayer for you, wherever you are in the world and whatever you're facing right now.
Lastly, I'd also like to say a huge thanks to so many of the HHA family/network who are themselves frontline staff for the NHS or working at hospitals in the US, Switzerland etc. Thank you for all you are doing!
Please pop back soon for more updates. Have a blessed Easter where ever you are.
FRIDAY 27th MARCH 2020: AN UPDATE FROM OUR CEO
'CAN WE FINANCIALLY SURVIVE THIS WHOLE CRISIS?'
Once again, we hope you are well and adjusting to the new way of life following the historical events of the last week.
As you may already know, the Coronavirus is now in Haiti and Uganda. This has presented us with some significant challenges, where the realities of a poor national health system in Haiti really hit home. Access to essential supplies of Personal Protective Equipment, oxygen and other materials is providing a major challenge to our partner hospital.
However, as other countries have witnessed, right now one of our greatest threats is the financial position of our partner hospital, HCBH. With the country on ‘lockdown’, patient numbers for non-critical care have reduced by an estimated 50% in the last week, having a major impact on the hospital’s self-sustainability. Added to this, after a year of great political and economic turmoil, inflation has pushed the costs of materials to unmanageable levels. This week, the hospital’s Head Administrator asked us, ‘Can we financially survive this whole crisis?’. It is a sad but very genuine question and one we are working around the clock to answer. Much like our own authorities seek to do, as we fight COVID19 in Haiti, it is critical we find an answer from both a medical and financial position.
Just this week I received the encouraging story of baby Rosie, a beautiful premature baby born as 31 weeks. She was referred to our partner neonatal unit at 31 weeks in a critical condition. She was immediately placed in an incubator, given phototherapy and later a blood transfusion. Despite her initial critical state, she is now doing really well and her mum congratulated the hospital’s staff for their amazing care and concern. Rosie is one of over 600 babies for whom we provide life-saving care every year in our partner Neonatal Unit. COVID19 doesn’t just pose a risk to those patients who catch the virus, but also to the sustainability of these other key services.
We appreciate many of our supporters are now facing their own very real financial concerns, and if that’s you, please feel free to read this email as nothing more than an update. For those who so generously donated after our last email, we also say a huge thanks. However, for those who may still be able to offer support, we’d be grateful for your collaboration in the coming months. Whether that be donating the savings you may be making from your commute to work or coffee break refreshment. Or perhaps you belong to a Church or community group that is now meeting online. Could you get creative with a special Easter online collection to support our efforts? I recently read about one man who ran a full marathon on his 7 metre balcony! During these unprecedented times, we’d value any support you feel able to offer. Then of course, for those who share our faith, your prayers would be a huge blessing.
We will be keeping this page updated each week with live updates, so please do pop back soon for updates and prayer pointers. Thanks again for your ongoing support and please do stay safe!
MONDAY 23rd MARCH 2020 (EDITED AT 4:40pm GMT):
Over the weekend Uganda had its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, and there are now five confirmed cases in Haiti with other suspected cases being reviewed. Whilst we hope and pray these numbers remain low, we are also conscious that in such countries access to swift testing within laboratories and accurate capturing of data is significantly more challenging than in countries like the UK. With that in mind, we continue to pray for the best outcome but prepare for the worst, and over the weekend some of our amazing team on the ground came in on their days off to get the triage area completed, the isolation ward ready on stand by and hand washing stations for outside each ward. Some pictures below to aid your reflections and prayers as our partner Hospital prepares for the week ahead...
FRIDAY 20th MARCH 2020
Whilst Uganda, one of our countries of operation was locked down earlier this week, today the Haitian Government declared a state of emergency after the first two cases of COVID019 were formally confirmed in the country. Over the last few weeks our team on the ground have been working incredibly hard preparing our partner hospital for a possible outbreak. Today, we've had several productive meetings between our UK and Haiti staff putting emergency measures in place, including some initial funding to cover the costs of triage tents, plans for the isolation ward and critical supplies like oxygen. We're told there is a strange feeling on the streets in Haiti and within the medical community, as the country stands on the eve of such uncertainty, wondering what the coming weeks will bring. In Uganda our team are working with the local Government departments to adapt our projects so they can safely continue caring for the most vulnerable, including assisting 50 people in the coming weeks with new wheelchairs.
You can read our CEOs announcement from earlier this week about the situation here: COVID-19 Update
Pictures to the right are of the team preparing the triage area at the front of the hospital. Joe - working hard but staying positive.