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Situation Report: 2021 South Asia COVID-19 Response, May 12, 2021 | No. 2

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OVERVIEW

The world’s COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise, with more than 156 million cases globally and more than 3 million deaths.
In South Asia, which has recently seen the fastest spread of the virus, the United Nations estimates half a billion people could be forced into poverty by the pandemic. India’s rapid rise in infection rates and deaths has strained the country’s already stressed health system, and has driven up infection rates in neighboring Nepal as much as 550%, due to significant cross-border labor migration. Scarce hospital beds, staff, equipment and medicine have all contributed to mounting untreated cases, and lax protective measures have accelerated exposure to the virus in densely populated areas and rural communities alike.
The logistics of delivering protective equipment and other supplies, medicine and especially vaccines are difficult due to partial or complete lockdowns in certain areas. Lower- and middle-income countries also face the challenge of vaccine hesitancy. The effects of loss of income, scarcity of food, and weak and overburdened health systems have combined to endanger lives and have placed a burden on the world’s poor not seen in at least a lifetime, if not longer.

OUR RESPONSE

From the pandemic’s declaration in 2020, Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health, both among the Corus International family, have joined to combine their expertise and geographic presence to save lives in some of the world’s most fragile contexts.

ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST:

In INDIA Corus is working with its local partner organizations and is supporting four mission hospitals in Kerala, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states, increasing caseload treatment capacity to an additional 3,000 patients. These hospitals will also receive oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, cardiac monitors, intensive care unit (ICU) beds, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and will undergo a refresher on COVID-19 management and prevention.
In NEPAL, Corus provides medical equipment to three hospitals and engages communities in coronavirus prevention and vaccine promotion. COVID-19 vaccine access and awareness initiatives will reach approximately 100,000 individuals and target Gorkha, Tanahun,
Nawalparasi-East, Nawalparasi-West, Saptari, Siraha and Bardiya districts. With the help of community networks, we are working to accelerate vaccine delivery in areas of great risk for infections.

LEBANON, already home to the world’s largest refugee population per capita, has struggled economically and politically during the pandemic. To help meet the need, Corus members are working with Lebanon’s host and refugee communities to provide economic relief in the form of food baskets, with 588 households supported in Beirut and an additional 370 in the Bekaa Valley.
AFRICA: We continue to work alongside the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and its members representing 32 nations to provide information, technical assistance, equipment and supplies to implement infection prevention and control in health care facilities. One of the key stakeholders for Corus in COVID-19 behavior change and communication is community-level health care workers, who in ACHAP countries address issues of misinformation and vaccine hesitancy. In TANZANIA, we supported the Ministry of Health to establish a national call center to provide two-way communications around COVID-19. In the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, we support 1,000 health facilities to strengthen their response to COVID-19. Community health worker networks are being trained using digital platforms to conduct risk communications and community engagement.

LATIN AMERICA:

In PERU, Corus and its members are providing livelihood and gender-based violence prevention support to Venezuelan refugees.
We are working with partners to find ways to extend the existing information management platform, “Ven Informado,” to cover COVID-19 information, in addition to providing relevant protection, legal, economic and other types of information to arriving Venezuelan refugees. In Central America’s Northern Triangle, which suffered back-to-back hurricanes, we are helping to secure COVID-19 prevention supplies and other support for vulnerable communities, especially those whose residents remain in temporary shelters, extending support to more than 10,000 people.
In HAITI, Corus is supporting two remote communities with WASH behavior change interventions to strengthen facility and community resilience in the face of COVID-19