Answering the Call

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike any outbreak we’ve experienced in modern times in terms of its geographic reach. Yet, many organizations are effectively applying the lessons learned from past epidemics to address the ravaging effects of the disease. Among them is the international NGO EMERGENCY and its affiliate, EMERGENCY USA, which supports the organization through advocacy, fundraising, and medical staff recruitment. By facilitating grants to EMERGENCY USA, CAF America is enabling the organization’s vital work across the globe.

With over 25 years’ experience providing free, high-quality healthcare to some 10 million victims of war, epidemics and other tragedies—and a wealth of experience treating patients
during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak—EMERGENCY is well-suited to answer the COVID-19 call. Across Italy, EMERGENCY is providing vital assistance in some of the hardest-hit cities. The group established an Intensive Care Unit at the Field Hospital in Bergamo, staffed with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social-medical operators, lab technicians and radiologists. EMERGENCY even helped build this mission-critical facility, working tirelessly alongside hundreds of dedicated local tradespeople to get the site up and running in record time.

EMERGENCY is also making a big impact in Milan as a key player in the “Voluntary Emergency Brigade”—a grassroots initiative that engages volunteers to deliver food, medicine, and other essentials to seniors and others who are highly vulnerable to the virus’ effects. Over 150 young people make up the brigade, handling more than 100 daily deliveries across Milan so those at risk can stay safely quarantined and still receive necessities. These committed volunteers are trained and equipped to take every precaution to protect themselves and those they serve.

EMERGENCY’s efforts in Italy also extend to Brescia, where a team of medical and logistics experts is helping the local hospital reduce contagion risks for the staff. And all across Italy, the EMERGENCY network of clinics is taking a triage approach to ensure patients who may have COVID-19 symptoms receive proper healthcare, as safely as possible. The clinics serve the most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and migrants, so education on how to protect themselves from the virus is a much-welcome service.

Much of its initial COVID-19 work has focused on Italy, where EMERGENCY was founded, the organization is also working to keep the people of Afghanistan safe from the disease. While the situation with COVID-19 in the United States and Europe has improved, we are concerned with the growing number of coronavirus cases in Africa and the Middle East. These regions could become the next pandemic epicenter in the weeks and months ahead, said Executive Director of Emergency USA Elie Rubinstein. With the Afghan healthcare system already weakened by four decades of war, and many medical necessities in short supply, the country could never sustain a widespread outbreak. So the EMERGENCY team is on the ground and keeping its facilities open, distributing information on how to prevent the virus’ spread, equipping hospitals and clinics with protective equipment, and doing whatever it can to keep COVID-19 at bay.

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