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U.S. relief groups protect most vulnerable from COVID-19
June 8, 2020

U.S. relief groups protect most vulnerable from COVID-19

Michael Laff – June 8, 2020

International relief organizations based in the United States are protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from COVID-19.

These nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are collaborating with local officials to screen patients for COVID-19 in Africa and build a hospital in Bangladesh.

U.S. donors have given more than $4.3 billion to COVID-19 relief efforts worldwide, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said May 20. Those donations are in addition to more than $10 billion provided by the U.S. government in health, humanitarian and economic aid to fight the pandemic.

In tackling COVID-19, some NGOs are building on their experience responding to earlier health crises, such as the 2018 Ebola outbreak in Africa.

These NGOs are among many fighting COVID-19 worldwide.

IntraHealth International

Medical staff from IntraHealth International, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, are screening patients at hospitals in Rwanda for COVID-19. The group is using screening procedures developed during the 2018 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

IntraHealth is also working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in South Sudan to advise local officials on using modeling to predict and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), based in New York, is supporting preparedness and response activities for more than 93,000 refugees, who for the past several decades have fled conflict and hardship in Burma for the safety of refugee camps in Thailand. The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) is providing funding for the effort.

IRC’s relief efforts include making face shields to protect frontline health workers serving vulnerable populations living in the nine refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border.

Woman standing at table and woman holding baby (© IRC)
The International Rescue Committee is partnering with a health facility in Syria to deliver medical supplies in that country. (© IRC)

Relief International

Relief International, founded in Los Angeles, is building a 144-bed hospital in Bangladesh to treat Rohingya refugees from Burma. The relief group is also providing protective equipment and pharmaceuticals for treating COVID-19 patients.

The NGO is also developing an e-learning module to conduct COVID-19 awareness activities with local youth groups. Funding from State/PRM’s partner, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is supporting the group’s efforts in Bangladesh.

People wearing protective gear (© Relief International)
Relief International is building a 144–bed facility in Bangladesh to treat Rohingya refugees who have fled Burma. (© Relief International)

Mercy Corps

Masked woman and man sitting at table filling out forms (© Mercy Corps)
Mercy Corps’ cash aid programs help Venezuelan migrants in Colombia pay for medical care and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic. (© Mercy Corps)

Mercy Corps has assisted Venezuelans displaced in Colombia with cash disbursements to pay for medical care, including childbirth, and help meet other basic needs.

“For vulnerable families without safety nets or savings accounts, a pandemic can make it difficult — if not impossible — to get the basics needed to survive,” Mercy Corps says on its website.