What other countries could learn from Nicaragua’s response to COVID-19

NSCAG News | on: Monday, 24 August 2020

House to house visits are part of the national public health campaign to combat COVID-19

House to house visits are part of the national public health campaign to combat COVID-19

The following is an edited version to a longer article by Coleen Littlejohn that first appeared on the website of the Alliance for Global Justice on 20 August 2020. Coleen has lived and worked in Nicaragua since 1980. From 2011-2014 she also worked for the World Bank in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic.

" The Nicaraguan Health Ministry statistics on COVID are released every Tuesday and I, along with most people in Nicaragua, follow them closely and have been comforted by the fact that the numbers are decreasing. You can also feel that on the streets of Managua, where I have lived most of my life since coming to this incredible country in January 1980.

But people are still being very careful: going into any public place, including government offices, means washing your hands, having your temperature taken and wearing a mask. But even so, there is hope in the air. Unfortunately this is not the case in neighbouring countries, nor in the United States.

Fake news about Nicaragua also reaches pandemic proportions

Despite the evidence here on the ground here, major media in the US and Europe keep reporting on the “collapse” of the health system, the “neglect and irresponsibility” of the Nicaraguan government dealing with this crisis and how the President has “disappeared.”

How these “journalists” can verify what they are writing when they have not been on the scene in months (or years, or ever) is a very legitimate question, especially since many articles are released at about the same time, on the same subject, with the same message, but changing a few words here and there, thanks to the sharing of fellow “journalists.”

Unfortunately, Nicaragua is having to deal with another pandemic, false news, and there doesn’t seem to be a chance of having any type of vaccination for this as long as the US continues to fund these “journalists ” and their friends.

Nicaragua as a model for responding to future pandemics

Fortunately, there are writers in Nicaragua who are documenting the truth and I have no doubt that the case of how [the Nicaraguan government] has handled the pandemic will be a model for future strategies.

And that model will show that even having an efficient community based national public health system is not sufficient to effectively combat a pandemic. What is as important in a response strategy is a country’s basic infrastructure, its network of good roads, communication, clean water and sanitation and electricity. You can’t rapidly control a major health threat if you cannot rapidly access your population.

That was a lesson I learned while working for the World Bank in Liberia, West Africa during the Ebola epidemic in 2014. Six years later, the majority of the population of that beautiful country still do not have access to potable water, so even the basics of washing your hands is pretty difficult.

This is not a problem in the Nicaragua of 2020 thanks to a well integrated government poverty reduction strategy that includes incredible investments in infrastructure and the social sector over the last 14 years. The rest of the world has a lot to learn from this remarkable country."

The full article can be read here

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