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Your support can keep vulnerable communities safe from covid-19!

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The current coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone globally. Oxfam is working around the clock with local partners, ministries of health and key UN agencies in 65 countries to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from coronavirus and its impacts. 

With our expertise in water, sanitation and public health promotion, we’re working with vulnerable, high-risk communities around the globe – from slums in India, refugee camps in Bangladesh to the most vulnerable communities in Italy. We’re delivering public health programmes, meeting acute needs as well as bringing cash assistance to those who are most in need. 

Pandemics know no borders, neither should compassion. Only when we support one another, can we beat the threats ahead together.

The global situation

In developing countries, obtaining prevention and health information can be a challenge due to low literacy rates and the lack of access to information. Poverty also affects people's ability to protect themselves against outbreaks. In poorer countries, the lack of protective equipment, weak public health systems, and even a lack of handwashing facilities places the poor at greater risk. If a pandemic like COVID-19 reaches slums or refugee camps, it could spread like wildfire and devastate population already facing multiple threats to their health and livelihoods.

At least half the world’s population (around 3.8 billion people) don’t have access to essential healthcare

Over 45% of countries have less than 1 physician per 1,000 people   

Around 3 billionpeople lack basic handwashing facilities

Over 70 millionpeople are forcibly displaced and many of them live in unhygienic conditions

70%of world’s health workersare women who are at high risk of infection

Oxfam’s Immediate Global Response

Since the 1960s, Oxfam has forged the way in water and sanitation provision, as well as hygiene education and promotion. To stop the spread of coronavirus, we have speeded up the delivery of our services with local partners, ministries of heath and key UN agencies in 65 countries, including Bangladesh and India, to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from coronavirus and its impacts.

India

India is the second most populous country in the world that, like many others, sees stark wealth inequality. High living costs have left many low-income migrant workers with no choice but to live in slums. The unexpected outbreak of coronavirus has also left labourers in many industries – including manufacturing, catering, retail, tourism – jobless. Apart from a major drop in income, they are now placed at greater risk of catching COVID-19 as many live in cramped shelters where sanitation may be a challenge.

In order to stop the spread of virus, Oxfam is working to:

  • Help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the general population through enhanced knowledge and skill of the community in adopting the prescribed protection measures
  • Install portable hand wash stations and distribute safety kits for frontline health workers at hospitals, caregivers and community members, which contain protective gear/personal protective equipment, to help prevent the spread of infection
  • Urge the government to strengthen public healthcare system immediately by allocating more funds to it
High rents in India have forced poor people into crowded and cramped living spaces where they share communal toilets and water facilities, leaving them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Physical distancing is advocated to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but most of them live with several family members in one-room homes making them vulnerable to infection. (Photo: Atul Loke, Panos / Oxfam)
 
High rents in India have forced poor people into crowded and cramped living spaces where they share communal toilets and water facilities, leaving them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Physical distancing is advocated to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but most of them live with several family members in one-room homes making them vulnerable to infection. (Photo: Atul Loke, Panos / Oxfam)
India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality of and accessibility to healthcare. And in the current context, it is the poorest who are least likely to be able to access this healthcare and treatment. We at Oxfam are urging the government to strengthen the public healthcare system immediately by allocating more funds to it. (Photo: Oxfam)
 
India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality of and accessibility to healthcare. And in the current context, it is the poorest who are least likely to be able to access this healthcare and treatment. We at Oxfam are urging the government to strengthen the public healthcare system immediately by allocating more funds to it. (Photo: Oxfam)
In Southeast and South Asian countries, there are many low-wage, migrant workers. The suspension of work, however, has affected them greatly. Oxfam is urging governments in these countries to provide immediate economic assistance to low-wage workers to ensure that no one is left behind. (Photo: Sam Tarling / Oxfam)
 
In Southeast and South Asian countries, there are many low-wage, migrant workers. The suspension of work, however, has affected them greatly. Oxfam is urging governments in these countries to provide immediate economic assistance to low-wage workers to ensure that no one is left behind. (Photo: Sam Tarling / Oxfam)

Bangladesh

Apart from impoverished communities in urban areas, refugee camps are also at high risk. In Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, close to a million Rohingya refugees live in makeshift camps. It is one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Considering that there was a confirmed case near the refugee camps in Cox’s Baxaar, Oxfam is already scaling up preventive measures to ensure the 70,000 refugees there are protected. We:

  • Have installed new handwashing stations in the camps, and further distributed soap and detergents .
  • Are providing training for community leaders on COVID-19, holding community information sessions on prevention measures, and sharing information about maintaining personal hygiene during household visits. 
In the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, there is a large risk of a devastating spread of COVID-19 in the cramped, sprawling sites. While monsoon season is approaching, rains and storms may cause major damage to the camps, further displacements, and cut of access to large parts of the camps. This could also lead to deteriorating hygiene conditions, which would put people at greater risk of infection. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming / Oxfam)
 
In the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, there is a large risk of a devastating spread of COVID-19 in the cramped, sprawling sites. While monsoon season is approaching, rains and storms may cause major damage to the camps, further displacements, and cut of access to large parts of the camps. This could also lead to deteriorating hygiene conditions, which would put people at greater risk of infection. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming / Oxfam)
Our staff will continue to work with refugee volunteers in the camps to distribute soap and promote hygiene in the community. (Photo: Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam)
 
Our staff will continue to work with refugee volunteers in the camps to distribute soap and promote hygiene in the community. (Photo: Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam)
Oxfam opened the largest, ecological waste treatment plant ever built in a refugee camp last year, which is able to process the waste of 150,000 people per day. We will continue to make sure that the system functions properly to avoid overflowing latrines and water contamination. (Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed / Oxfam)
 
Oxfam opened the largest, ecological waste treatment plant ever built in a refugee camp last year, which is able to process the waste of 150,000 people per day. We will continue to make sure that the system functions properly to avoid overflowing latrines and water contamination. (Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed / Oxfam)

 

Italy

We at Oxfam are also working across Europe, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. In Italy, the first European country to experience a community outbreak, we will address priority needs first; we will mainly be providing Tuscan hospitals in Florence with ventilators, face masks and other equipment. 

We are also strengthening our work to disseminate information necessary to contain the epidemic to foreign citizens to address the language barrier. We are also doing this through linguistic-cultural mediators, community health educators and social media to increase the reach of this information. In addition, we are hosting online teacher training sessions and student/youth workshops to support them in their home-based teaching and online learning, so that all students, especially the most vulnerable and at risk of exclusion, are not left behind during this difficult period. 
 

 
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learn more about Oxfam's response to Covid-19