Can you help protect rural communities in East Africa?
Are you worried about food shortages? Been stuck indoors for days with close family? Unsure how our health system, one of the best in the world, will cope?
Put yourself in the shoes of a rural woman in East Africa.
You don’t have enough money to stockpile food. You work in the informal economy, have no savings or government support. You are four hours’ walk from the closest healthcare facility, which is staffed by just one nurse and often runs out of medication. You are on the pill which is about to run out, and you’re facing weeks or months stuck indoors …
You’ve heard talk of Coronavirus, but don’t know what the symptoms are, or how to protect your family. Some neighbours say it’s a rich man’s disease, and that you can stay safe by drinking alcohol.
In times of crisis, it is often women and girls who are hit the hardest.
We are working to spread lifesaving messages about COVID-19 to rural communities. As funds are diverted towards the pandemic, it is also crucial that rural girls and women are not denied access to contraception. We are doing everything we can to ensure rural women get the services they need.
Can you help us tackle COVID-19 and support rural Kenyan and Ugandan communities?
We are working closely with our partners across Kenya and Uganda to spread lifesaving messages on how to stay safe. We are also doing everything we can to continue providing family planning.
But like in the UK, we need to keep our frontline Community Health Workers safe. They are critical links to communicate health messages to vulnerable, remote communities.
Can you help us buy protective equipment and communicate lifesaving health messages?
We urgently need gloves, hand sanitiser, soap, aprons, glasses and thermometers. These are still available locally, but we need to act fast before they sell out.
Why rural communities need our support.
We know from previous crisis situations that resources are often diverted from primary healthcare services to tackle the imminent emergency.
The communities we work with already have extremely limited access to primary healthcare and modern contraception due to the remote locations they live in. While these areas are less densely populated than cities, they are poorer and health systems are weak.
Self-isolation and social distancing will affect Kenyan and Ugandan communities in different ways from European countries. People in the communities we support rely on the informal economy for their livelihoods and simply cannot afford to stay at home. There is no safety net provided by the government. Households often have limited access to clean water for hand washing.
Why women and girls are more vulnerable.
Staying at home may not always be safe for girls and women. We expect to see a spike in unintended pregnancies following social distancing measures. Unwanted pregnancies often lead to unsafe abortions, and it is critical that we continue to support as many women and girls as we can through this crisis.
Women and girls will not only be denied the chance to take control of their reproductive health. They also face increased risks of maternal and neo-natal deaths and increased sexual and gender-based violence.
How CHASE Africa is responding
To help communities stay safe, we are raising awareness about COVID-19 to change behaviours through the Community Health Workers we support.
We will continue to provide access to family planning on a case by case basis, and we will raise awareness through communications campaigns about family planning at every occasion.
CHASE Africa works with 9 local healthcare and family planning partners in Kenya and Uganda. In the short term, we urgently need to protect the Community Health Workers they employ so that they can safely continue their work.
This vital work includes:
- Purchasing personal protective equipment: hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves, aprons, goggles, face masks.
- Purchasing other necessary equipment to diagnose cases: current need is thermometers.
- Behavioural change communication on coronavirus. Some of our partners have reported that communities are still intent on shaking hands, a sign of respect for elders.
- Information and awareness raising on containment strategies
- Dispelling fake news and false cures
- Referring COVID-19 cases to hospitals
- Continuing to provide family planning advice and counselling
Please support the most remote communities in this difficult time.