Ariel Frisancho, CMMB Peru Country Director, Reflects on COVID-19 Emergency Response
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the overall physical and mental health of millions of people. Nearly a year into our pandemic response here in Peru, we understand more fully the effect that extended lockdowns and curfews have had on the poor communities where we work.
The first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 quickly overburdened our fragile healthcare system and long periods of rigid lockdowns and travel restrictions halted traditional response efforts. To remain responsive to the specific needs of those we serve and flexible enough to adapt to changing realities, our traditional in-person service delivery needed to change. Instead of home visits, CMMB Peru and Community Health Workers established phone chains to keep in contact with and to support pregnant women and children with anemia who benefit from our programs. We remained committed to our core field interventions; especially access to nutrition measures for at-risk women and children and the implementation of water and sanitation activities.
CMMB-supported rehabilitation therapists conducted live video calls with children and parents participating in our disability rehabilitation program to ensure the continuity of care at home. In addition to these traditional health activities, the network of CMMB-supported community health workers also provided timely COVID-19 awareness messaging to limit the risk of exposure to our beneficiaries. Counseling calls and video chats reached 3,000 families.
Coupled with the risk to physical health from the virus, the pandemic has also taken a significant mental and emotional toll on health professionals and vulnerable families. We have witnessed the increasing vulnerability to mental health issues as lockdowns and quarantines have limited access to traditional economic and emotional support systems. To help offset this pressure, we implemented one-to-one counseling for frontline health professionals and emergency survival packages for families suffering extreme hardship. But much more needs to be done in this area.
Our ability to adapt our programs and services under these adverse conditions has been a blessing and a lifeline to those we serve. Flexibility and adaption have been the key to our successful corona virus response. I am certain that additional adaptation will be necessary in the year ahead as we prepare our partners and communities for the vaccination programs to come.
On behalf of our program team here in Peru and around the world, I extend my heartfelt thanks to our partners and contributors whose support and prayers enable us to adapt in times of crisis and remain a responsive and compassionate provider of health care to those in need.
Love, respect, excellence, collaboration, and solidarity will allow us succeed.