COVID-19 in Honduras

In the midst of COVID-19 challenges, the Association for a More Just Society continues to do justice in communities and at the national level in Honduras.

As of August 2020, Latin America was quickly becoming the global epicenter of COVID-19 – the region accounts for only 8% of the world’s population, but it has accounted for 30% of global fatalities.

In Honduras, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported on March 11, 2020, and within a few days, the country went into strict lockdown. Non-essential businesses were shut down, and citizens were restricted to leave their homes only once every two weeks. Many Hondurans, who were already struggling with unemployment and poverty, have struggled to put food on the table or have even been forced into homelessness. This graph from Our World in Data shows how the number of COVID-19 cases in Honduras has grown since the initial outbreak.

Honduras has an extremely weak health system, which prevents those with coronavirus from receiving proper treatment. Over 80% of Hondurans use only public hospitals and clinics when they are sick, but corruption and government inefficiencies have crippled the health system. Some coronavirus patients have been turned away from hospitals that are too full to care for more patients.

How We're Responding

 

We continue to stand up for justice in Honduras, even in the midst of COVID-19. Learn how we’re doing justice.

Supporting Vulnerable Communities

We are working to support the most vulnerable in the communities we’ve been working in for over 15 years.

When the lockdown began in Honduras, we knew that poor families would need immediate help to continue to put food on the table. Many families are unable to work due to the lockdown, while other families don’t have the financial resources to buy enough food to last them for a few weeks. In the target communities where we work in Tegucigalpa, we have distributed food supplies to hundreds of families to meet this immediate need.

Our team of psychologists has also opened a hotline in Honduras to support anyone struggling with anxiety, stress, or other mental health issues during quarantine. 

Normally, our Strong Communities programs have weekly meetings where vulnerable youth are able to grow through service-learning and leadership-building activities. While groups aren’t able to meet in person, our community mentors now hold meetings through WhatsApp with 300 youth, providing emotional support to them and their families.

Helping Students Get Back to School 

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, our team revealed a startling statistic that one million students in Honduras are not in school – that’s one-third of all children in Honduras. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated that crisis as students attempt to learn from home, many of them without proper instruction or without internet access.

Hear the words of a few Hondurans students attempting to learn from home in the midst of the pandemic:

  • “Not all students can have access to internet.” – Javier, 17 years old
  • “My mom chose to pull my little brother out of school this year, because of lack of communication from the teacher.” – Cristian, 23 years old
  • “I have helped my little neighbors by tutoring them. We should be asking the Ministry of Education to promote literacy again.” – Edna, 14 years old

We are working with organizations like World Vision and Compassion International to ask the Ministry of Education to better plan, invest, and coordinate with communities in order to serve students. We’re advocating for creative solutions, like the use of radio and TV to access more students, that will prevent public school students from falling behind in their studies or leaving school altogether.

Building a Stronger Health System 

Given Honduras’s weak health system, AJS has worked to ensure that Hondurans can have access to quality and affordable care. We were invited by the Honduran government to audit its emergency purchase processes during the COVID-19 health crisis in light of our ongoing work to audit government institutions. This included medical equipment like test kits, ventilators, mobile hospitals, and gear for medical workers. We started this work because we know that in times of crisis, it is even more important that public funds support those who are most vulnerable.

However, as we evaluated the prices, quality, and delivery of these purchases, we were saddened to find the government’s actions fall short. Hugely overpriced contracts and suspected corruption have led to an investigation of the Honduran authorities in charge of purchasing. We’ve seen the impact of this negligence firsthand as numerous Honduran colleagues have fallen sick with COVID-19 and as some of their family members have died.

Now, we’re calling for a team of national and international experts to meet weekly to design and implement a clear national strategy that carries Honduras through COVID-19 and recovery. We continue to advocate for Honduras’ leaders to provide widespread, affordable preventative materials and medical care to Hondurans.


Updated September 2020

 

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