World Vision launches 17-country response as coronavirus 'tsunami' set to devastate the vulnerable

World Vision warns a ‘tsunami’ of coronavirus cases set to hit vulnerable and conflict-torn countries poses an unprecedented threat to lives and risks undermining progress made in fighting hunger and poverty. 

In a growing effort to protect the world’s most vulnerable against the rapid global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the international aid agency is increasing its response in 17 countries.

The organisation has major concerns about countries with a lack of basic and advanced medical care, and those already battling other diseases that compromise immune systems, such as HIV. 

“The number of countries affected by COVID-19 tripled in the African region and doubled in the Americas region in the past week, and we have seen some very disturbing increases in cases in very poor countries,” said World Vision International’s head of Health and Nutrition, Tom Davis. 

With new cases of the global pandemic increasing daily, World Vision experts highlight that coronavirus will have a huge impact on the poorest and most vulnerable and poses a major risk to the efforts and progress made to fight poverty and hunger. 

World Vision is urging governments to support a united global effort to protect the most vulnerable by rallying support, particularly for those hosting refugees and displaced children.

“We are getting to an inflection point in a number of countries around the globe and expect to see cases mushroom over the next few weeks. We need to help countries with weak health systems prepare as best they can and while they can for this tsunami of COVID-19 cases that will simultaneously hit multiple regions of the world. There’s no reason that we cannot both prepare high-income and lower-income countries.” Davis urged.

World Vision has been distributing protection equipment and supplies in Asia, where the virus outbreak was first recorded, since January.

Teams on the ground are supporting vulnerable communities by promoting prevention behaviours, offering essential health advice and psychosocial support, and engaging government health authorities.

Further action is now underway in some of the world’s most fragile societies including, Afghanistan, DR Congo, Iraq, Haiti and Syria. 

World Vision is warning that the impact coronavirus will have on these countries is likely to be far greater than what we have seen to date in more medically-advanced countries, both directly through COVID-19 deaths, and indirectly through the reduction of life-saving child health services as countries focus on this new disease.   

As an international child-focussed NGO, World Vision is particularly concerned for children in the most dangerous places. More than 37,000 global staff and some of the 220,000 community health workers are working hard to limit the spread of the killer disease, and reduce its impact on families.   

“We will continue to respond in every country where we work, with a particular focus on at-risk areas by collaborating with local authorities, hospitals, academic institutions and NGOs to prevent the spread of the virus, and to lessen its effect on the most vulnerable,” said World Vision International’s Global Director of Humanitarian Operations, Isabel Gomes. 

“With extensive experience in responding to disease outbreaks, including polio, Zika and Ebola, we are focusing on preventing transmission, supporting health responses and caring for children made vulnerable by this crisis.” 

For more information or for interview requests, contact: 
Elissa Doherty (Media and Communications Advisor) 

040 999 44 33 

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