Protecting Medical Staff in Syria

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Following almost 10 years of civil war and displacement of the population, Syria’s healthcare system has been decimated. According to the World Health Organization, only 50% of hospitals across Syria are fully functioning, 25% are partially functioning due to a shortage of staff, equipment, medicines or damage to hospital buildings, while the remaining 25% are not functioning at all.

Health workers have directly suffered the effects of the war, both personally and professionally, and have often been targets themselves. By 2013, 70% of the workforce had left the country.

COVID-19 has added even more pressure to the healthcare system, affecting the health outcomes of the residents of Syria as well as the remaining healthcare professionals who are treating them. Inadequate distribution of personal protective equipment and shortages of supplies has led to high death counts of healthcare workers.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the UOSSM Canada to immediately provide vital hygiene supplies and protective equipment to medical and non-medical staff working in medical facilities in Northwest Syria.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) was established in 2012 in Paris in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Today it is a coalition of humanitarian, non-governmental, and medical organizations from Turkey, France, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and is the UN’s major partner in Syria.

As part of CMF’s Stop the Gaps Campaign, CMF will be partnering with UOSSM Canada on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to protect medical personnel and non-medical staff working in close contact with COVD-19 patients at Corona Treatment-Community Centres (CCTCs). In northwest Syria where the project is based, UOSSM currently operates 14 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), 7 hospitals, 22 specialized health and mental health centres, 8 mobile clinics, as well as 13 Corona Community Treatment Centres.

Through this project, staff will be provided with supplies such as disposable gowns, aprons and masks, Personal Protective Equipment (Class B) face shields, protective goggles, surgical bonnets, gloves (surgical and examination), shoe covers, and basic items like hand sanitizer and soap.

To help cover the cost of these necessary items to protect medical and non-medical staff working in CCTC’s in Northwest Syria, please consider donating to our Stop the Gaps campaign.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.

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Helping prevent the spread of illness and disease in Syria

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There are 6.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, displaced within Syria, many with no other options but to live in refugee camps.

The risk and impact of COVID-19 at these camps is high as the camps are crowded and medical services are sparse. The impact of the shortages in hygiene supplies for the families in these camps can lead to a catastrophic situation not only for the families in the camps but also for nearby populations given the continuous movement of internally displaced people. We are pleased to announce our partnership with GlobalMedic, whose mandate is to save lives by providing short-term, rapid response in the wake of disasters and crises, both at home and abroad.

Through CMF’s Stop the Gaps Program, our project with GlobalMedic will support the needs of families living in camps in northwest Syria by providing them with Family Emergency Kits (FEKs) which have been developed as a holistic solution to serve multiple needs faced by families in crisis.

To help prevent the spread of illness and disease, the FEKs include hygiene items such as bars of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste and oral rehydration sachets. Reusable masks that are vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19 are also included in the FEK kits.

Solar lights will also be provided in the kit. Solar lights provide families with a lightweight rechargeable product that extends access to light when energy sources are unreliable. Solar lights also provide added security in the camps where a lack of light at night may be a security concern, especially for women and girls.

Arguably the most significant item included in the kits is a water purification solution, typically a water purification unit (filter). These water purification solutions provide a family with access to clean and safe water for up to one year.

If you wish to help us cover the cost of getting vital items like these to families in need, please consider donating to our Stop the Gaps campaign.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

Hygiene Support to those Displaced by Conflict in Syria (completed)

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Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, which is nearing its tenth year, Northwest Syria has become home for more than four million internally displaced people. Most displaced populations suffer from very difficult living conditions in the midst of acute shortages in basic services, especially in the makeshift camps.

For the past year, COVID19 has created a new challenge in the region and exacerbated the suffering of the displaced people. The makeshift camps and concentrations of internally displaced people are lacking in the minimal necessities required to prevent the spread of the virus among families. In addition, the overcrowded nature of makeshift camps leaves no room for social distancing. This has put additional pressure on organizations working in the region to implement emergency response projects that specifically address this new challenge.

As part of a special Close the Gaps initiative to help prevent, limit, and stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, CMF partnered with the Molham Volunteering Team to provide vital hygiene supplies and facemasks to households in Azaz area, located in northern Aleppo governorate, Northwest Syria.

The area is home to large concentrations of displaced people in Syria because it is considered a relatively safe area. Even so, local project partners face challenges implementing projects like this one on a regular basis. In the midst of project implementation, a car bomb exploded, leading to the temporary suspension of all activities as a safety precaution.

Once resumed, 558 displaced families (2960 persons) in six sites received hygiene kits made up of items such as disinfectant, liquid soap, detergent, shampoo, face masks and hand sanitizers. Priority was given to female-headed households who lost the male providers, since such families are run by women who are in charge of their children and have almost no source of income.

The Molham Volunteering Team continues to make significant strides in helping prevent and mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19. We are proud of our part of their success and grateful to the CMF donors who helped support our efforts at closing the gaps.

The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. Working together we can stop the spread.Arguably the most significant item included in the kits is a water purification solution, typically a water purification unit (filter). These water purification solutions provide a family with access to clean and safe water for up to one year.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

Reducing The Transmission of COVID-19 at University Hospital of Mirebalais

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Haiti – a country already facing widespread poverty, political instability, weak infrastructure and extreme vulnerability to natural disasters – was ill-equipped to deal with the outbreak of yet another deadly disease. A deadly cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake led to the death of nearly 10,000 people. Haiti started 2020 by finally having reached a milestone of one full year free from any new cases of the deadly waterborne disease, just as COVID-19 was starting to spread globally.

With 35 percent of Haitians lacking basic drinking water services and two-thirds with limited or no sanitation services, CMF is working with partners to strengthen the health system’s ability to adapt and respond to COVID-19.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Partners In Health Canada (PIHC) at the University Hospital of Mirebalais. CMF and PIHC will be supporting the hospital through the construction of up to 15 permanent handwashing stations and 15 toilets in areas where COVID-19 patients are treated in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. Improved sanitation facilities in these areas will create a healthier hospital environment and reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission for both staff and patients.

University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM) in the Central Plateau, Haiti is one of the main COVID-19 treatment centers and referral hospitals in the country and is currently the largest teaching hospital in Haiti.

Research shows that well-positioned, easily accessible hand washing stations increase good hand hygiene practices and reduce healthcare-acquired infections (HAI). In addition, by increasing the number of toilets for patients and staff in COVID-19 areas of the hospital, there will be less wait time for individuals in the COVID-19 units. The improvements will also ensure that handwashing stations and toilets are still available when facilities are being cleaned and disinfected.

During this pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Working together as a global community, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Improved Hygiene at Hopital Albert Schweitzer, Haiti (Project Completed)

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Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was ill-prepared for the global pandemic. According to the United Nations, some 35% of Haitians lack basic drinking water services and two-thirds have limited or no sanitation services, making it extremely difficult for people to regularly wash their hands as recommended to deter the spread of the coronavirus.

As part of a special Close the Gaps initiative to help prevent, limit, and stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, in 2020 the Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF) provided support to the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) to improve hygiene initiatives in Haiti’s Lower Artibonite Valley.

Designated a COVID-19 treatment site by the Haitian Ministry of Health, the hospitals’ Emergency Response Plan included initiatives within the hospital as well as outside of the hospital to stem the spread of the virus within the local catchment area.

CMF supported the installation of 300 new community handwashing stations that are servicing about 20,000 beneficiaries in 5 communities and surrounding neighbourhoods. These handwashing stations were installed in public spaces with large gathering concentrations such as marketplaces, schools, churches, the hospital and the HAS campus. At each handwashing station, a volunteer is charged to ensure that water and chlorine are constantly available in addition to the maintenance of the station itself.

In these same communities, HAS also increased the availability of household “tippy taps”, simply constructed handwashing devices that enable contact-free handwashing to further assist in fighting the spread ofCOVID-19. The tippy tap stations will service about 1000 people. With each of these projects, community buy-in was essential. Residents were consulted on the site selection and installation projects and were engaged during the entire planning and implementation phases, key for program sustainability. In addition to the importance of community consultation, community education is a crucial component of COVID19 prevention. Due to this successful WASH education program, the anxiety levels, as well as the stigma surrounding the coronavirus have significantly decreased. People better understand the virus and the methods to prevent contracting and spreading it.

In the midst of providing COVID-19 treatment, HAS continues to meet and respond to the rising patient demands by remaining open 24/7 for essential health services including high-risk obstetrics, prenatal and neonatal care and pediatric services, in addition to receiving acutely ill patients and performing emergency and critical surgeries at the hospital. Since May, the number of patients coming to HAS for care have more than doubled.

HAS was fortunate that before the pandemic hit recent upgrades to their water system included the timely addition of a Mixed Oxidants (MIOX) water purifying system that are critically needed for COVID-19 related cleaning.

With critical shortages of bleach and all other surface sanitizers persisting on the local market, leaving hospitals and health centers all over Haiti are in dire need, the Mixed Oxidants (MIOX) water purifying system is lifesaving. The MIOX system produces surface disinfectant up to 200 gallons per day and has an effectiveness rate of 2.5 times more than bleach. HAS’ supply chain includes health facilities in the area as well as the local police precinct, churches and school. Extremely cost-effective, this high quality surface disinfectant is essential in the fight against and containment of COVID-19. To date, HAS has distributed 3,894 gallons of sanitizer throughout its health system and to local partners in need.

HAS continues to make significant strides in providing sanitary and hygiene solutions to prevent and mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 in the Artibonite region and we are proud of our part of their success and grateful to the CMF donors who helped support our efforts at closing the gaps.

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Hand washing station at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS).