Our response to COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed our way of life. This pandemic is not only a health crisis, it is shaping up to be a economic, social and humanitarian crisis as well. Please watch the video below for the latest announcement regarding COVID-19 from our CEO, Kim Evans. 

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Although lockdowns and social distancing are impacting our work, we remain strongly committed to ending neglected tropical diseases. We believe that this is the moment we need to step up and help the ultra-vulnerable people we serve. Now more than ever!

Countries like India, Bangladesh, Liberia, Nigeria, DR Congo, Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire do not have social safety nets or strong health care systems. COVID-19 threatens to further erode their ability to deliver health care. That’s why effect:hope's work to augment and strengthen in-country health care systems is so important. 

Even under normal circumstances, people struggling with neglected tropical diseases face challenges accessing health care services, as well as stigma and isolation. Many live with already-compromised immune systems and face disproportionately higher risks of developing serious illness or even dying from a COVID-19 infection. The pandemic has made it even more difficult to access the support they need at this time and they need help.

COVID-19 is also widening the divide between rich and poor even further. People without adequate shelter and protection are more likely to catch illnesses like COVID-19 and will take longer to recover. And even those who survive or avoid infection are likely to suffer a greater loss of income over the long-term due to lockdowns, quarantines, physical distancing and other measures. 

Like you, we want to ensure that they are not further neglected due to COVID-19. With your help, we are responding to immediate needs as a result of the pandemic and helping our partners and beneficiaries over the long-haul. Will you join us?

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We have a real opportunity to make a direct impact on the COVID-19 pandemic and save vulnerable lives! We are partnering with Lepra UK and the Government of India to re-purpose the Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre (BPHRC) lab in India to conduct COVID-19 testing. The centre has a functional Biological Safety Level 3 laboratory (required for COVID-19 testing) and technical expertise.  

So what are we waiting for? 

We need your help to purchase 2 new PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines to conduct the work. The machines cost about $60,000 and there are ongoing costs for conducting the tests. One machine will be used in the lab to process tests at high speed and the other will be used for mobile testing (vital in the context of our work in rural India). With your help, we can save lives!   

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Not only will these machines help save lives now, but we will also be able to use them in the future for testing neglected tropical diseases, thus giving them a longer life span. When you support effect:hope, you strengthen health systems and support vulnerable people and their families around the world - now and for the future! 

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effect:hope has expertise in handling epidemics and partnering with local health teams. During the Ebola Crisis in Liberia in 2014-2015 effect:hope supported the Ebola Virus Disease response through our partners, the Ministry of Health Neglected Tropical Disease program and local NGO, Action Transforming Lives and 1,096 trained health volunteers.

We know from our experience that weak health systems lack the capacity to handle a pandemic of this magnitude. These type of events usually result in catastrophic breakdown of these health systems. This is why we need to ensure people who are the most vulnerable, those living in poverty and affected by a neglected tropical disease, are helped. The COVID-19 pandemic prevents them from accessing their treatment, impacts their ability to get food and puts them in a higher risk category. 

Here at home, we are prioritizing the health and safety of our employees, donors, volunteers and stakeholders. Our staff is working from home and we are adhering to guidelines provided by the government and public health, which includes travel and quarantine restrictions. 


We are very concerned how marginalized communities and groups can cope with the wide-ranging health, social and economic impacts of this crisis. Those living in poverty with a neglected tropical disease like leprosy, are most at risk of rights infringements and violations, even more so in times of crises.  

Currently our most urgent concerns are:

  • Getting medicine to patients in a timely manner. Leprosy patients undergoing treatment need regular access to medicine anywhere from six months to two years depending on the severity of their disease in order to be fully cured.
  • A shortage of blood in our program countries. We recently lost a patient with leprosy who also had severe anemia. The patient could have survived with even one unit of blood.
  • There is also a lack of Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare providers in our program countries.
  • In the case of lockdown those living with a disability related to a neglect topical disease can become even more isolated and not have access to food or water. Starvation and dehydration are a major concern.
  • The overall ability for health system infrastructure to continue to operate with such high demand. With the sudden increase in COVID-19 patients, the greater need for personal protective equipment, and limited number of heath care professionals, we are fearful it will take years for the health systems in developing countries to recover.

The Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre (BPHRC) located in Hyderabad, India, first opened its doors in 1999. It conducts research and testing to improve the lives of those affected by neglected tropical diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.  

Most clinical laboratories in countries like India are not certified to use PCR technology for COVID-19 testing. Thankfully BPHRC has a functional Biological Safety Level 3 laboratory (required for Corona Virus testing). BPHRC lab-technicians, microbiologists, epidemiologists and other scientists have significant research and front line work experience within high infection control environments. The centre has a country-wide network for specimen collection points as well as strong and reliable partnerships with local health systems.

Additionally, we have access to an established and trusted network of key effect:hope partners who can assist with a quick and efficient roll-out of the testing.  

Samples collected from the back of the nose or mouth or deep inside the lungs are used for testing. PCR testing can detect even the smallest amounts of viral genetic materials by duplicating it many times through a complex lab process called amplification. A fluorescent signal is created when amplification occurs, and once the signal reaches a threshold, the test result is considered positive. If no viral sequence is present, amplification will not occur, resulting in a negative result.

Conducting a diagnostic test is the only way to know if someone has COVID-19. The best way to conduct these tests is by using a machine that uses the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, method.  PCR requires dedicated equipment and trained technicians.

To limit the potential impact of exposure to COVID-19 and to protect the health, safety and well-being of all employees, effect:hope has decided to implement a work-from-home policy. We have also paused all in-person fundraising and international travel to help support public health efforts of containment and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in communities.

As the situation evolves, we are using Health Canada and the World Health Organization as our trusted sources of information.

There are several ways you can help:

1) Pray
These are uncertain times for us all globally. We are asking for prayers for this pandemic to end quickly and for those infected to recover to full health. Please also ask for protection for those living with compromised immune systems like those affected by neglected tropical disease, front-line health care workers, grocery store workers, politician and country leaders, and all those who are working tirelessly to keep us safe. 

Prayers are also needed for the recovery after the pandemic. Charities especially will be greatly affected financially so please pray that they will be able to survive the coming months of lower donations. There are thousands of small charities that add tremendous good to the world that will be at risk of closing down. 

2) Donate
You can help by supporting our ongoing work, so we can reach more people affected by neglected tropical diseases like leprosy around the world. Our global projects include initiatives like providing clean water solutions and constructing sanitary hand washing stations, as well as distributing vital supplies and creating access to critical health services to help save lives and to help ensure that people stay safe and protected. This includes advocating for important policy changes and helping to strengthen national health systems. 

effect:hope’s work has never been as needed as it is today. As we navigate this situation, we are grateful for the support of all our dedicated donors whose contributions allow us to continue doing our important work in vulnerable communities. If you can further contribute to our efforts to help people living with a neglected tropical disease, please do so at effecthope.org/donate

3) Call your local member of parliament (MP) or Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and encourage them to help Canadian charities. 

4) Continue to support small local charities in your area.

5) Please take care of yourself and your family and each other during this time. Maintain social distance (stay at least hockey stick apart), wash your hands and clean surfaces often.

In these difficult times it's easy to get scared and anxious. With the proliferation of social media there are much incorrect information being shared. Only trust information from credible health agencies like the following: