Canadian, global pandemic response must include the protection of vulnerable children and those most at risk from COVID-19, says World Vision

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Highlights:

  • COVID-19 could prove devastating in countries with under-equipped hospitals, shortage of health professionals
  • Children living in fragile places at risk of being pushed deeper into vulnerability
  • World Vision Canada welcomes the Government of Canada’s announcement of $50 million to support the efforts of WHO and other partners
(March 16, 2020)
The Government of Canada must be part of a united global effort to help prevent COVID-19 from having a devastating impact on the lives of child refugees, migrants and the very poor, warns aid agency, World Vision. Canada should maintain a global perspective by addressing pressing needs within Canada while also supporting global efforts to halt the spread of this virus.  

“We have to consider the unique impacts that the pandemic could have on the world's most vulnerable children and their families. Many of them are already dealing with complex issues like conflict and other disasters," said Michael Messenger, President of World Vision Canada. “We welcome the Government of Canada’s announcement to provide $50 million to support the efforts of WHO and other partners. World Vision stands ready to partner with them. The COVID-19 mortality rate is likely to be higher in developing countries with limited health services and with large amounts of people on the move. We encourage Canada to be prepared to offer additional support as the situation evolves. Supporting grassroots prevention programs can help stop the spread of the virus before it takes hold in the most at-risk communities."

World Vision is already hard at work distributing protection equipment and supplies in Asia, where the virus outbreak was first recorded, and is rolling out health advice and psycho-social support to children, their caregivers, and communities.

But World Vision is deeply concerned about Africa, the conflict-affected Middle East, and refugee and migrant populations such as those caused by Venezuela’s economic crisis and the expulsion of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.  

“COVID-19 is highly infectious and will spread easily in places where there are unhygienic conditions, crowding, and where health services and monitoring are weak,” said World Vision International’s head of Health and Nutrition, Tom Davis. “This means that countries hosting high numbers of displaced people and refugees or where there is a severe lack of doctors, nurses, community health workers and hospitals need special and urgent support.”

While wealthy countries typically have 2-12 hospital beds per 1,000 population, in the poorest countries it is as few as one bed per 10,000. There also can be a lack of oxygen, ventilators, and intensive care units. In refugee camps, this kind of medical support is commonly not accessible and mortality rates from COVID-19 may be higher than the 3.4% reported so far in countries with more advanced healthcare systems.  

Resources: Photos and video 

Photo Caption: A World Vision China staff member puts a label on a box filled with Family Packs bound for vulnerable families in affected communities. The packs include hand sanitizers, hand soap, a towel, facial tissue and thermometers. Staff have been working tirelessly to provide the much needed medical supplies and equipment to fight the spread of COVID-19 and keep communities and health workers safe. Photo: Elaine Zhao