By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue
In tweets and business tweaks, the world is relearning that clean hands are a first line of defense against disease and infection.
Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, handwashing and hygiene are swelling in urgency and support, even though the message being delivered is not new.
“It’s a known solution,” said Lindsay Denny, health adviser to Global Water 2020, a water, sanitation, and hygiene advocacy group. Denny was referring to hygienic practices being a safeguard against disease transmission. “We’ve known the solution for 150 years. It absolutely could be scaled and should be scaled up.”
Handwashing is a hard sell in calm times, when aspects of the health and medical industry like drug development attract more attention and funding than preventative measures. But today, the simple but potent combination of soap and water is having a moment that advocates are looking to take advantage of.
Though messages about handwashing and hygiene are breaking into the mainstream during the Covid-19 outbreak, the global nature of the pandemic is erecting extraordinary barriers to the movement of goods.
For years, Venezuela’s healthcare system has veered toward collapse. Water, medicine, protective equipment, and other essentials have been in short supply. As the country reports its first coronavirus cases, experts fear the nation could be an ideal breeding ground for the disease.
“I am very concerned that in Venezuela there are no supplies, medicines, or even water in hospitals or homes,” Josefina Moreno, a university professor with a history of respiratory disease, said in an interview with Reuters. “The prevention measures that everyone is talking about are hard to comply with here.”
As of Sunday afternoon, a total of 10 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Venezuela, according to Jorge Rodriguez, minister of communication and information.
After the first two cases were announced on Friday, schools across the country were closed indefinitely. Later that day, neighboring Colombia — which announced its first case last week and now has several dozen cases — halted all border crossings with Venezuela. The two countries share a 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border.
Venezuela has also barred all flights with Europe and Colombia, and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó canceled planned street demonstrations.
The protective measures, however, fail to address Venezuela’s major vulnerability in combating the virus: a woefully unprepared healthcare system.
By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue
The Navajo Nation, one of the U.S. populations hardest hit by Covid-19, will receive at least $600 million in emergency funding from the CARES Act to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s an enormous amount of money for the tribe, amounting to about half of the Navajo Nation’s $1.3 billion budget for 2020. But the country’s second-most populous tribal nation might not be authorized to use the funds for one of its greatest needs, which is clean water.
The CARES Act, which was signed by President Trump on March 27, provided $8 billion to tribal governments. Three-fifths of that amount ($4.8 billion) has been allocated so far. Because of its size, the Navajo Nation will receive a large portion of that sum.