With the heightened awareness and increasingly urgent concerns regarding the global spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and as a public health organization, we want to assure you that public health and safety concerns for our patients, visitors, and staff are our highest priority.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. As of today, the virus has spread to 134 countries around the world, though the Ministry of Health (MINSA) has still not confirmed any cases in Nicaragua. However, with confirmed cases now in both Honduras and Costa Rica – our neighbors to the north and south – we recognize that it is only a matter of time before cases are confirmed in Nicaragua.
We are very concerned about what this global pandemic will mean for the world, but also for Nicaragua as the poorest Spanish-speaking country in all of Latin America. As a country, Nicaragua has a very high poverty rate, with some estimates project that up to 32% of the population (2 million people) will be living on US$1.79 or less per day by the end of 2020. The significant economic impacts being felt around the world as a result of the crisis will hit Nicaragua hard. The burden of this disease on health systems and health care workers, even in developed countries, has been overwhelming.
In light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 in just the past three weeks, especially in the United States and Central America, AMOS is:
- Coordinating with our network of local partner organizations and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health to monitor the national situation.
- Sharing prevention guidelines with our medical and non-medical staff in Managua to prevent the spread of the virus. Our staff has already begun preventive health education with all of our rural health promoters, health committee members, and with support groups who meet near our Managua campus.
- For the overall safety and well-being of our visitors, but also our own staff and community members, our leadership team has decided to suspend all delegations scheduled to come to visit AMOS in the months of March through May. We will review the situation on a monthly basis to decide if this decision should be extended for further months.
- We are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization regarding preventive measures, which emphasize the personal responsibility that we all have at home, in the community, in office spaces and in health centers.
- Our medical clinics on the AMOS Campus and in the community of Villa Guadalupe will remain open to patients needing health care. Our doctors are versed in the current directives from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) regarding COVID-19 and are following guidelines for health providers to protect themselves from exposure.
- Through our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Program, we plan to begin a campaign to install community hand washing stations in all of our 23 rural communities. Hand washing is one of the simplest measures for prevention, but many rural families do not have a place to easily wash their hands.
We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated as needed. In the meantime, please follow all the CDC recommendations for personal hygiene, and take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
We are so grateful for your ongoing support that has allowed us to remain faithful to our mission of sharing health and hope with the most vulnerable.
Please pray for our community health workers, our staff, our organizational partners, and front-line health providers, that we may all work together to prevent the spread of the virus and deaths in vulnerable communities in Nicaragua. Know that all of us will be praying for you, too.
Dr. David Parajón
AMOS Health and Hope