In March, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ethiopia, and NALA immediately mobilized against the threat. We formed a rapid response team with coordinators on the ground in all of our project sites, as well as Addis Ababa.
As COVID-19 burns across the globe, concern is high for its impact on developing countries. In Ethiopia, the health system lacks the capacity and equipment to face the pandemic. Moreover, access to water and soap for hand-washing is severely limited, even in health centers. The lifestyle in Ethiopia is also highly communal and physical distancing is a challenge, as busy markets and churches are the center of community life in many areas.
With our project coordinators, we assessed the needs on the ground, met with local stakeholders, and jumped to action. The first phase of our project centered on preparedness and messaging. To date, we:
Provided IPC materials (gloves, masks, soap, sanitizer, gowns) to 20 health centers and hospitals in 5 cities across Ethiopia
Locally constructed 100 foot-operated hand-washing stations and placed them outside health centers, taxi stations, churches, and other busy areas
Reached more than 1 million people in Ethiopia with targeted health messaging in multiple languages via radio, television, social media, and communication materials
Advocated with religious leaders and local officials to implement strategies for physical distancing, such as painting separation lines for prayer and waiting areas
Developed a training for health workers on community outreach, inclusion of vulnerable groups, and mask-making
Conducted a "mobile" messaging campaign to rural areas with a van and loudspeaker
For phase 2 of our project, we will focus on strengthening the local capacity to respond. We plan to hold trainings for community health workers and professional caregivers, as well as find sustainable solutions for the provision of water and soap. Innovative ideas for physical distancing will also be explored.