Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Sightsavers would like to reassure supporters that we are monitoring the situation closely, and doing everything we can to protect our staff and the communities in all the countries where we work.
The world is facing an unprecedented situation and things are changing rapidly. Sightsavers is working hard to protect our beneficiaries, partners and employees in the immediate and longer term.
Our supporters are a vital part of the work Sightsavers does. We realise at this time there are many pressing concerns in everyone’s lives and we want to reassure you that we value your ongoing support and will be doing everything we can to ensure the people who need your support receive it.
We are following national and international guidance and will be flexible in the rapidly changing circumstances.
The vast majority of our staff across all countries are working from home, and we will continue to follow the advice in various countries as things evolve. We have stopped international travel in order to avoid spreading the virus. We have strong infrastructure and systems in place, all of which have been tested to ensure we can manage when our staff have to work from home. We are confident that we can keep things running during this difficult time; however, as you can imagine, it may take us a little longer than usual to respond to queries and process donations.
Following the latest national government and WHO guidelines, on-the-ground work on many of our programmes has been temporarily paused. Many of the ministries of health are diverting health workers to the COVID-19 response. We are currently assessing our programmes and we will take a project-by-project view of the impact of COVID-19 and what can be done to support the response.
We are prepared to put our resources at the disposal of all the countries where we work in the event they have a major outbreak of the virus, as we did during the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
We have a strong focus on improving access to clean water, educating communities on how to keep hands and faces clean and strengthening health systems as a whole, which will be even more vital as COVID-19 spreads.
There is real concern that people with disabilities are being left out of healthcare services and we will be working hard to advocate for the rights of these people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Great progress has been made in this area in recent years and it’s vital we don’t let them be left behind now.
Sightsavers couldn’t do the work we do helping vulnerable people in some of the world’s poorest countries without the support of all our loyal supporters. We are very touched by all the messages and support we have received and we hope that you will continue to support us through this uncertain period so we can keep helping those who need us and be well-placed to accelerate our efforts when countries start to recover and we need to tackle pent-up demand.
Finally I would like to wish you and your loved ones good health through the coming weeks, and hope that we can all resume our normal lives soon.”
Caroline is Global CEO at Sightsavers, a role she has held since 2005. In 2015 she received a CBE for services to people with visual impairments.