Updated: Mar 10, 2021
The whole world was shocked and shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus disease as described by health experts is an infectious disease caused by the severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2), a new strain first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. It has impacted around 215 countries in different regions of the globe. The 2 August 2020 figures showed 17,660,523 of confirmed cases and the death toll is running to 680,894 in affected countries of the world. In the Philippines in particular, it is second to Indonesia with highest number of cases in Southeast Asia reaching already at 103,185 with 35,569 active cases.
With the seemingly unfettered spread of the pandemic, the best prevention for slowing down the transmission is for an informed citizenry that understands the causes and how the virus spreads. As such, CDP’s experience of community-based disaster risk reduction and response for many years has a significant role in engaging whole of communities and society via families. The families as primary carers can become frontliners in communities in building their resilience in varied contexts whether in urban or rural settings.
As a response to the current pandemic, CDP advocates and promotes the harnessing and maximizing of the role of families in communities as carers and frontliners in the fight against COVID-19. They can do their part in preventive measures by adhering to the protocols of washing hands frequently, using face masks, and observing physical distancing. They can help in information dissemination and contribute to contact tracing based on their social circles and sphere of influence in their communities. And as they take care of their very own families, they are contributing not to increase the number of cases which are currently on the rise. Addressing their economic needs is making the Bayanihan to Heal as One responsive and actualizing the all-of-society and all-of-humanity approach in this pandemic. The Bayanihan to Heal as One is the law that was passed in the country in response to COVID-19 pandemic. A truly remarkable source of inspiration are the women taking on the bridging role and leadership starting with providing additional income support for their family and helping in health issues of the community. When the situation calls for it, it becomes natural for women to step up and exercise leadership for their family and community.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MH-PSS) for Frontliners and Affected People
Aside from preventive approach already mentioned, another significant response of CDP in the context of COVID is in mental health-psychosocial support services. Identified as one of the most urgent need and concern not only by health workers and frontliners but by the affected population as well, CDP has designed an online approach to conduct MH-PSS among medical professionals, health workers and frontliners to cope and manage in COVID response. The medical and health professionals including other frontliners such as firefighters, crisis hotline operators, pharmacists, local disaster risk reduction and management officers experience stress, pressure and uncertainty amidst the situation brought about by COVID. CDP’s MH-PSS became a welcome intervention by the people affected and suffering from distress.
CDP does the MH-PSS in a non-threatening, lighter approach and process for about two hours either face to face but observing physical distancing or via online. In the course of the intervention, the participants get to identify what they want to do to be helpful to the affected people and communities, cull resilient statements and frame shared/articulated statements into resilient attributes that provides hope and resilience for the participants. An example of a statement from the participants would be like ‘this will turn around for the best’. The resilient attribute that may be culled from such statement is optimism wherein the participant is able to reappraise the situation and its impact considering the fact that initially it may appear to be negative. From the 25 psychosocial support services interventions that were already conducted, the feedback was that the intervention was very helpful for them to proceed with their job assignment in a more positive and hopeful perspective. They were able to harness the strength from one another and the courage to proceed despite fear and uncertainties.
Harnessing the gifts of Humanity
The pandemic despite its sheer gloomy impact to many individuals, on the other hand, it provided some new discoveries in leadership and governance of states all over the world, also for family and community relationships in various localities. The spiritual nurturance and self-awareness of people became paramount in varied, unique settings. From the collection of feedback, there are good things that were brought about by the pandemic. One of the positive points that had happened is family togetherness and time for bonding that bring about closer and deeper appreciation of one another -- discovering their wonderful traits and peculiarities and doing things together like work chores at home or other new and exciting ventures that they would enjoy doing together. These were not happening previously during normal situations due to busy schedules of all family members. At the community level, it is supporting one another to live and survive in the face of difficulties, economically, emotionally and psychologically with all the stress from job loss, health concerns, etc.
Adapting to the new normal is the way forward making the lives of people flexible and responsive to the call of the times. It is always instructive to anchor on new things and discoveries that drive resilience forward. There are many fronts in the battle against COVID, the medical solution, enhanced governance, compassion, unity, and service. CDP, together with its fellow women and men will bounce back, better.