Protecting Medical Staff in Syria (Completed)

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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.

As part of CMF’s Stop the Gaps Campaign, CMF partnered with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations-Canada (UOSSM Canada), which is part of a coalition of humanitarian, non-governmental, and medical organizations from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Turkey. Member organizations pool their resources and coordinate joint projects to provide independent and impartial relief and medical care to victims of war in Syria.

In northwest Syria 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.

T19 Emergency Response Project was designed to protect medical personnel and non-medical staff working in close contact with COVD-19 patients at Corona Treatment-Community Centres (CCTCs) through the provision of vital PPE and hygiene 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.

The PPE and hygiene supplies were distributed to health facilities in Idlib & Aleppo/ Northwest Syria funded by The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a Rehabilitation Unit in Sarmada, and the vaccination team in Ariha Primary Health Care Centre.

Challenges Experienced in the implementation of this project included:

  • Increasingly new cases of COVID-19 emerged.
  • Poor living and health conditions in northwestern Syria.
  • A large number of patients need frequent visits to health centers
  • Great need for personal protective equipment, both for the staff and patients.
  • Infected staff caused service to be suspended

Project Outcomes:

  • Protective equipment alleviated the spread of infection and the widespread psychological stress as a result of a deficiency of PPE and also led to a decrease in the material cost to the community of obtaining PPE.
  • CMF helped support the procurement of 9,288 items for the healthcare facilities
  • CMF helped support the purchase and distribution of supplies for 1031 healthcare workers and staff. Items included items such as disposable gowns, masks, protective face shields and goggles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help support projects like, 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 (Completed)

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We are pleased to announce the completion of CMF’s project with GlobalMedic, and the distribution of Family Emergency Kits (FEKs) to families who were affected by displacement and conflict in Northwest Syria.

The FEKs will be serving multiple needs faced by families in crisis.

The main item included in these kits is a water purification solution, in this case an ImerPure household water purification unit. These water purification units will be providing a family with access to clean and safe water for up to one year.

The kits also include hygiene items, including bars of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, which are all essential to protect families’ health, prevent the spread of illness and disease, and provide a sense of dignity and normalcy for crisis affected families.

 

The final item included in these FEKs are solar lights. Solar lights provide families with a lightweight rechargeable product that extends access to light when energy sources are unreliable and also provides added security in IDP camps at night where lack of lights are often cited as a major security concern.

We thank all of our donors who contributed towards this campaign, to provide some dignity and improve the safety of over 9,000 internally displaced persons who do not have access to sufficient clean water and hygiene supplies.

 

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The Project

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 to the families. Solar lights provide families with a lightweight rechargeable product that extends access to light when energy sources are unreliable. Camps often do not have electricity, making it hard for families to tend to sick members, for children to learn, for families to cook, and it puts camp residents, especially women, in danger.

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.

 

Greatest Need

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The CMF has supported a wide variety of charitable programs and organizations over it’s thirty-year history, such as financial aid for medical students, medical outreach internationally, and research and programming to address physician wellbeing such as the co-creation of the Canadian Physician Health Institute (CPHI).

In 2020 alone the CMF spent $1,380,392 on charitable programming. None of it would have been possible without generous donors from across Canada who invest in our mission – we are deeply grateful.

If you wish to support our work in 2021, consider contributing towards “greatest need” and we will use your funds towards our most immediate priorities.

In 2021 our specific areas of focus are indigenous bursaries and COVID-19 infection prevention.

Click here to learn more about these campaigns and contribute.

 

COVID-19 & Infection Prevention in Canada

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Whatever the community, wherever in the world, frequent and correct hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. However, across the globe and even in Canada, some communities and families might face challenges to assuring all members can prevent the spread of infections.

In Canada, vulnerable communities are more at risk of getting an infection and developing severe complications due to their health, social and economic circumstances. Especially in times of pandemics, cracks and holes in systems are magnified and more easily identified as gaps or barriers to infection prevention.

Communities understand best what their own highest priority and immediate needs are, and knowledge is best transferred in culturally appropriate and sensitive ways as defined by the end users and the community being served, so the Canadian Medical Foundation is working with partners in Canada to close some of those gaps that can lead to the spread of COVID-19.

 

COVID-19 & Infection Prevention outside of Canada

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Whatever the community, wherever in the world, frequent and correct hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. However, across the globe communities may (for reasons of geography, social determinants of health or political situations) lack the access to knowledge and/or resources to most ensure effective and universal handwashing to prevent the spread of diseases and viruses like COVID-19.

Every community might face slightly different challenges to assuring all members can prevent the spread of infections. Especially in times of pandemics, new cracks and holes in systems are magnified and more easily identified as gaps or barriers to infection prevention.

Gaps can include lack of access to resources such as potable water, soap and/or approved disinfectants. For caregivers and health care providers, required resources may also include personal protective equipment (PPE).

Communities understand best what their own highest priority and immediate needs are, and knowledge is best transferred in culturally appropriate and sensitive ways as defined by the end users and the community being served, so the Canadian Medical Foundation is working with partners outside of Canada to close some of those gaps that can lead to the spread of COVID-19.

Oral Knowledge Transfer and COVID-19 Prevention

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Across Canada as the rate of new COVID-19 infections has been steadily decreasing among the overall population, the cases of COVID-19 are rising in Indigenous communities.

According to Canada Public Health and Indigenous Services data, Indigenous communities currently have about 8 percent of the country’s active COVID-19 cases, despite accounting for about 5 percent of the total population.

While Ontario and Quebec had been the epicentre of the outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they can make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre for the development of oral Cree messages for increasing and enhancing understanding of COVID-19 prevention protocols, testing, precautions, and social distancing.

In addition to social and economic barriers impacting the health of First Nations communities, messaging around COVID-19 has primarily been developed and delivered in literature format which has had limited impact at the community level, in particular with groups that have lower literacy levels and have Cree as a first language. Particularly Elders and knowledge holders who are critical influencers of healthier choices and practices and messaging. Oral knowledge transfer through key messaging remains a very powerful way to influence and get critical messages out to multiple groups in a fast, efficient and consistent way.

Through CMF’s Stop the Gaps Campaign, the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre will be implementing the Wellbeing and Safety Cree Audio and Video Messages Project in 37 of 47 communities in Alberta who are Cree speaking.

A mix of virtual and in person engagement sessions with Cree speaking Knowledge holders will be developed. The engagement sessions will include messaging around COVID-19 transmission, risks, prevention and self-care.

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

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CMF Bursaries for Indigenous Medical Students

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In December 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report that highlighted some of the disparities in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, including an infant mortality rate ranging from 1.7 to over 4 times the non-Indigenous average and a diabetes rate nearly twice as high among

Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous aged 45 and older. The Commission also called upon governments to act towards increasing the number of Indigenous healthcare workers in Canada.

According to Canada’s 2016 Census of Population, more than 1.67 million people in Canada (4.9% of the population of Canada) self-identified as an Indigenous person and yet less than one percent (760) of the 93,985 specialists and general practitioners in Canada identify as Indigenous.

Indigenous peoples face significant barriers to post-secondary education. As a result, far fewer First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada have a university degree than non-Indigenous Canadians. Achieving a medical degree is an even steeper climb due to a variety of factors, one of which is financial.

CMF is working with Indspire, a national Indigenous charity, to bridge that gap through the establishment of Indspire’s only bursary focused on future physicians going to any medical school in Canada. With the support of funding partners like CMF, Indspire provides financial support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across Canada to assist them in completing their post-secondary education.

Bursaries like CMF’s Bursaries for Indigenous Medical Students are matched by the Government of Canada, allowing Indspire to be double the impact for students.

The “Calls to Action” envisioned a role for all Canadians in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Education is vital to the reconciliation process. Together with our Indigenous partners and generous Canadian donors we can do our part and help increase the number of Indigenous physicians in Canada.

Donate now towards CMF’s Bursaries for Medical Students for which Indspire will be able to secure government funding to double your impact.

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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.

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Reducing The Transmission of COVID-19 at University Hospital of Mirebalais (Completed)

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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.

35% of Haitians lacking basic drinking water services and two-thirds with limited or no sanitation services. Even in healthcare settings, more than 95% of public health facilities are in need of urgent repair due to normal deterioration and decades of neglect. The country’s extreme poverty means that many facilities lack plumbing, improved sanitation, adequate infectious waste disposal, sterilization equipment, electricity, and/or access to a basic running water supply.

As part of CMF’s Stop the Gaps campaign, we partnered with Partners in Health Canada who, through their sister organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante (ZL), addressed infrastructure concerns at the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM), which is one of the main COVID-19 treatment centers and referral hospitals in the country, and also currently the largest teaching hospital in Haiti.

At the start of the pandemic, ZL and the hospital identified gaps in its WASH infrastructure. The institution lacked sufficient numbers of working toilets and handwashing stations to meet the needs of the patients, staff, and visitors who came to the facility on a daily basis. This was particularly concerning as cases of COVID-19 were on the rise and given the important role handwashing plays in disrupting the transmission of the virus, strengthening WASH was seen as an urgent priority.

Research shows that well-positioned, easily accessible hand washing stations increase good hand hygiene practices and reduce healthcare-acquired infections. 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.

That’s where we stepped in with a grant for the construction of up to 15 permanent handwashing stations and 15 toilets in order to reduce the transmission of the virus.

Through the grant, in spite of a near unprecedented escalation in violence and security this past year that disrupted the procurement of supplies, HUM was able to install handwashing stations at the main entrance, primarily for the benefit of patients and visitors who are now able to disinfect prior to entering the hospital. The team also installed new handwashing stations in the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatrics department, maternity ward, emergency department and the orthopedics department – which is currently acting as the COVID-19 treatment unit. Broken toilets across the hospital were replaced, and new toilets were installed in the COVID-19 treatment unit, upholding standards of infection prevention and control and providing dignified care to those infected with the coronavirus.

The project has enhanced infection prevention and control efforts for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and given patients, visitors and staff access to dignified sanitation and hygiene options. We thank our generous donors for their support which made this project possible.

 

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.

To help support projects like this, please consider donating to our Stop the Gaps campaign.

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!

 

Helping prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers

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With the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped our world, the Canadian Medical Foundation’s priority focus is the prevention of infectious diseases through projects that address gaps in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) efforts.

A June 1, 2020, Lancet meta-analysis of 13 studies showed that wearing eye protection, like face shields, resulted in a 78% reduction in infection with COVID-19, SARS or MERS.  However, due to the global shortage of disposable face shields, many sub-standard face shield products are flooding the market, single-use face shields are being re-used off label, and face shields are not being properly decontaminated before re-use. This poses a health and safety risk to healthcare workers.

A sustainable solution is urgently needed.

The CDC’s September 15, 2020 guidance on reprocessing disposable face shields states to “carefully avoid the foam cushion and elastic strap as they may not be tolerant to disinfectants.” This means that the skin contacting foam cushion and elastic strap are not typically decontaminated before reuse.

Reusable face shields need to be fully decontaminated before reuse to ensure that the risk of infection is minimized, with a decontamination protocol that includes both cleaning and disinfection. No decontamination kits to properly clean and disinfect reusable face shields are currently marketed in Canada. The currently available decontamination protocols for reusable face shields often fail to include the cleaning step and usually recommend using toxic or flammable chemical disinfection agents.

Before a reusable face shield can be brought to market, the process for cleaning and disinfection must go through a complete and expensive validation process to prove that it is effective.  However, due to recent shortages, Health Canada has allowed – on a temporary basis – face shields to be exempt from validation testing.

Dr. Julielynn Wong is board-certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, public health and general preventive medicine, and is the founder of 3D4MD, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide regulatory-compliant, 3D printable healthcare supplies to remote communities.

3D4MD’s analysis has shown that none of the face shields marketed in Canada as “100% reusable” have undergone the necessary and costly quality standards testing by independent, accredited laboratories to validate that these devices can be properly cleaned, disinfected, and safely reused.

The 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield and Decontamination Kit has been designed to prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers in community and institutional settings. The Decontamination Kit for the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield uses an environmentally safe, non-toxic, rapid action (1 minute), single-agent cleaner and COVID-19 disinfectant authorized by Health Canada.

The Canadian Medical Foundation has committed to support Dr. Wong in obtaining regulatory standards certification testing by an accredited, independent laboratory to demonstrate that the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield can be properly cleaned and disinfected with the 3D4MD Face Shield Decontamination Kit in accordance with Health Canada regulatory standards.

The proper use of face shields is an overlooked and neglected topic in COVID-19 prevention. Without safe, reusable personal protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers will be forced to continue to reuse sub-standard, untested face shields made of cheap, low-grade plastic with a limited lifespan. This significantly increases their infection risk for COVID-19, exposes staff to toxic chemical disinfectants, utilizes more healthcare resources, raises healthcare delivery costs, and increases the amount of medical waste in landfills and oceans.

Working together, supporting each other, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

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