On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus (known as COVID-19) a pandemic, calling on countries, governments, and global health organizations to take urgent and aggressive action.

Last Mile Health is closely monitoring the spread of the virus and its implications on our collective work to save lives in the world’s most remote communities. Our first priority is ensuring the safety and security of our staff, and we are taking the following precautions:

  • Daily meetings of our two cross-team COVID-19 working groups: 1) one dedicated to staff safety and security, operations, and communications, and 2) one dedicated to developing an integrated programmatic response across all areas of operations, and supporting, informing, and convening key partners across our sector.
  • Suspending all travel that is not directly connected to our COVID-19 response efforts
  • Prioritizing staff safety, by: 1) closing our US offices and implementing a remote work policy, 2) evacuating expatriate staff from Liberia as soon as possible given reduction in flights worldwide, and 3) closely monitoring all other staff in their home countries to ensure they can keep safe while they keep serving.
  • Instituting temporary, unlimited sick leave for all staff.
  • Reinforcing our commitment to provide access to mental health services for all staff
  • Actively preparing for rapid changes in the countries where we operate and where staff are based.

As we learned during the West African Ebola outbreak, primary healthcare services are often interrupted or even suspended during times of crisis. We are deeply committed to supporting our local partners to prepare for and respond to the spread of COVID-19, and ensure health workers can keep safe and keep serving their communities.

Over the last week we have seen the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe—including Africa, which had until recently been spared from the virus. Though the numbers are still small in the countries where we work according to the World Health Organization—Liberia has one confirmed case, Ethiopia has five confirmed cases, while Uganda and Malawi have yet to report any cases—governments are stepping up to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and sustain life-saving access to primary health services. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be right beside them. Of note, our team has been working alongside the Liberia National Public Health Institute and the Community Health Services Division to prepare and support a comprehensive response. In the coming days, we will share more information about Liberia’s efforts to prepare and launch a national response to COVID-19.

We know that community and frontline health workers play a vital role in effective epidemic response. We continue to advocate for community and frontline health workers to be key members of the response, particularly on infection prevention and control and health education at the community level.

In times like this, we are reminded of the urgent need for universal health coverage worldwide. We are grateful to our team, health workers, and partners for their tireless work to not only respond to COVID-19, but also strengthen health systems that will prevent the spread of pandemics in the future.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a dynamic situation and we will continue to update this page as more information becomes available. Please check back frequently.

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The Empathy Gap

Posted on 03/31/2020

Abraham Zerihun Megentta is the Regional Advisor Consultant, East and Southern Africa for Last Mile Health’s Community Health Academy. Below, he reflects on what we can learn about empathy from the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, has now spread to more than 100 countries including my home country, Ethiopia. Panic, […]

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