Without reliable and appropriate facilities – without beds, without power to run ventilators, without running water to keep hands clean – the lives of doctors, nurses and all their patients are at greater risk.
Already, the novel coronavirus is straining even the most advanced health systems. In the US, we are social distancing to flatten the curve, but poverty and poor housing conditions will make it nearly impossible for many countries to do the same. In Haiti, where most urban residents live in slums and work in the informal economy, staying home means no food on the table, no way to collect water, no medicine if someone falls sick, and no space to quarantine at home.
We are experiencing the final moments before the virus spreads rapidly through the poorest regions of the world, threatening to stretch already-fragile health systems to their breaking point. Without the option of social distancing, these communities need emergency infrastructure and equipment now to give doctors and nurses a fighting chance against the epidemic.
For ten years, we have been designing, building and equipping resilient health infrastructure in more than 20 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Our team was on the frontlines strengthening infrastructure during Haiti’s cholera epidemic in 2010 and the West Africa Ebola epidemic from 2014-16. Now, we are directing all of our energy and expertise to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, we are working directly with our frontline partners to design, build and equip the infrastructure they urgently need to fight this pandemic. These hospitals and clinics collectively serve over 18.3 million people; many are the only healthcare option for hours in any direction, providing care to rural communities with no running water to ward off the virus. This is true of St. Boniface Hospital where BHI just completed Haiti’s first Coronavirus Treatment Center. Our two large warehouses in Massachusetts are also shipping vital equipment and supplies to our partners, including hospital beds, oxygen tanks, and personal protective equipment.
Our multi-disciplinary team of architects, engineers and global health professionals is also developing robust open access resources, in line with WHO standards, tailored to the poorest regions of the world. These resources are designed to be implemented by local teams with materials that are routinely available to them, even with borders closed and local movement significantly restricted. Already, we have published two Coronavirus Treatment Center prototypes, including full construction drawings, for facilities with and without testing capacity. In partnership with Dartmouth’s Center for Global Equity, we are finalizing resources on infection prevention and control, personal protective equipment, and facility management. We are getting these resources out through webinars and our global health networks, but more can and must be done.
We cannot leave doctors and nurses unprotected. We cannot leave vulnerable communities with nowhere to turn. Now is the time to equip healthcare workers with the infrastructure that will protect their lives, their patients’ lives, and the lives of millions left vulnerable in the path of COVID-19. Without infrastructure, there are no back-up plans.
BHI is supporting appropriate and reliable emergency infrastructure for care providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic in low-resource settings. Read the timeline of our response to date.
We believe that accessibility to quality, dignified healthcare should exist for all regardless of location or ability to pay. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want all frontline healthcare teams to have the knowledge and tools they need to stay ahead of the curve. We are making all of our coronavirus resources open access, including COVID Treatment Center conceptual plans and construction drawings.
A collection of webinars featuring the knowledge and resources of Build Health International and our partners, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Seed Global Health.
Here, you can also watch BHI CEO David Walton’s interview of Forbes’ COVID-19: Ask the Expert series.
As we have already seen in New York and Italy, reliable infrastructure and equipment are key to fighting this pandemic. So too is teamwork. We need your support.
Learn more about how you can support BHI’s coronavirus response in poor and vulnerable communities.