June 19, 2020 – Today marks 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) has released a report detailing how Canadians working in global health have dealt with “a crisis within a crisis” for the past 100 days.
Alongside the virus, Canadians are working to overcome fragile health systems, incomplete data and misleading information while continuing to safeguard hard-fought gains made in health and rights, particularly for women and girls, across the globe.
“The effects of the global pandemic on the work of Canadian global health organizations and the communities and individuals with which they work have been dramatic,” said Dr. Helen Scott, Chief Executive Officer of CanWaCH., “Yet we have also seen the Canadian global health sector come together and take swift action to combat COVID-19.”
Over 100 Canadian organizations contributed to a survey and accompanying series of interviews between March and June 2020. The results have been shared in the report 100 Days of a Pandemic: Canada’s Evidence-Driven Global Response.
Many organizations reported that longstanding challenges have been exacerbated by the virus, such as rising poverty, food insecurity and increased violence against women and girls. Yet the results of the survey and interviews also show how resilient Canadian organizations and their local partners have been in the face of the pandemic.
Canadian organizations have used lessons learned and insight gained from past epidemics, such as Ebola, Zika and HIV/AIDS, to better respond to COVID-19. They are drawing on tools and resources created in response to these crises and modifying them for the current pandemic.
Due to the evolving context, response programming will continue to change but the report provides a snapshot of Canada’s response to COVID-19 in the first 100 days. Organizations reported responding in 74 countries and 12 geographic regions, and the top six countries with the most programs implemented are Haiti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Canada. The report includes a map of current projects in response to COVID-19.
The top three areas of response programming to COVID-19 are: 1. Water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, with a focus on communication on infection prevention; 2. Strengthening health systems and health worker training, including personal protective equipment (PPE); and, 3. Maternal, newborn and child health.
“Canada has been a leader in global health for many decades, and we continue to lead on the frontlines across the globe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Scott. “We are also seeing pandemic leadership right here at home, with Canada being one of the top countries where response programming will help overcome the virus.”
A major partner throughout the response has been the Government of Canada, which in the past 100 days has offered support to Canadian global health and development organizations in responding to the pandemic, both overseas and from Canada. Organizations contributing to the report indicated that this support has allowed for increased flexibility in the sector and has been essential in responding to the virus.
When asked about our continued response, Canadian organizations were in overwhelming agreement that the sector must continue to think creatively and take concrete actions to prevent further losses and protect the gains made in global health in order to ensure a more equitable post-pandemic world.
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The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) is comprised of approximately 100 Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, health professional associations and individuals partnering to improve health outcomes for women and children in more than 1,000 communities worldwide.
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