Preventing coronavirus in Syrian refugee camps: Mrs Um Abdullah
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been working with our in-country partner, the Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA), to help ensure older Syrian refugees living in camps are reached with vital aid and protected from the deadly coronavirus.
As part of this support, we trained and established teams of health workers to go out to internally displaced people’s camps, raise awareness of coronavirus and infection control within the community and provide ongoing support to older people during the pandemic. It was one of these health workers who visited Mrs. Um Abdullah and her family.
Nearly a year ago, Mrs. Um Abdullah, 65, along with her husband, 70, and children were displaced from their town Saraqib, south of Idleb. She and her husband both suffer from several diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. When the community health worker visited, the couple were warned about how serious COVID-19 was, especially to older people and those with chronic diseases.
The community health worker explained to the family how the virus could spread and how to help prevent it. Advice was provided on the importance of washing hands, cleaning surfaces and social distancing, in addition to the need to wear a mask when going out, especially in crowded places, or if there were any suspected cases nearby.
The camps have large populations and crowded living conditions, making communication on the virus difficult. But the community health worker carried out a follow-up visit to emphasise the advice given and provide a hygiene kit, along with guidance on how to use it in the most effective way to prevent contracting the virus.
The information has created real change, with preventative action becoming a pattern in the family’s daily life and helping them stay healthy and safe from the virus.
Mrs. Umm Abdullah said:
“I had to change my habits and daily way of life in order to protect myself and my family from a disease I did not know."
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Older people in the poorest parts of the world affected by conflict or living in refugee camps need help urgently to survive the silent threat of COVID-19.