Our co-founder Jena Lee Nardella writes, “Coronavirus is our newest global pandemic, and the world has things to learn from those who have spent the last 30+ years addressing the global pandemic of HIV – quite different from coronavirus, but requiring local, national, and global responses nonetheless.”
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is new to us, but the feelings and impact we’re experiencing right now has actually been a day-to-day reality for years for many people living in low-income countries around the world. Because disease outbreaks like cholera and dysentery are frequent in communities without clean water and proper sanitation facilities, many countries experience on a daily basis the sort of health situation that we are currently facing.
Blood:Water’s Director of Africa Partnerships, Nadia Kist, makes the point that the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that proper hygiene practices are truly life-saving and that anyone can be affected by a disease if it is prevalent enough in a community. She states, “COVID-19 has been a powerful equalizer: affecting all of us irrespective of our geographic location or socio-economic status.”
The societal impact that COVID-19 has had gives us a rare opportunity to personally empathize with our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who have not had access to good health care, clean water, and proper sanitation facilities for years. As sub-Saharan Africa currently holds almost 50% of the global burden of the water crisis and almost 70% of the global burden of HIV, it is a highly vulnerable area – which is why we partner with grassroots organizations on the ground in that region. (Click here to see how our partners are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.)
As our partners well know, HIV and waterborne diseases have been ravaging communities in sub-Saharan Africa for decades, and they continue to require a global effort to address them. Even as we enter this time of uncertainty and a new feeling of being at risk, we can channel these emotions into empathetic compassion as we walk a few steps in the shoes of those we are helping to serve. Even though this can be new and uncertain for us, let us remember that times like these help us to really understand what everyday life is like for many of our brothers and sisters around the world.