Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID is expanding its response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in China and around the world.
In the coming weeks, the non-governmental organization will launch a series of online stress management webinars for medical first responders and mental-health workers in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai.
The five-part webinar series will launch with an initial group of 30 mental health workers and then will be rolled out to further groups as needed, according to IsraAID.
Additional target groups may include doctors from Zhuhai who have traveled to Wuhan to support the medical response at the outbreak’s city of origin and may require targeted support on their return.
“The rapid spread of coronavirus in China has led to a sense of uncertainty and fear amongst healthcare workers and wider communities alike,” said Debra Kalmanowitz,, IsraAID’s psychosocial support specialist working on the organization’s coronavirus response.
“From conversations with leading professionals at the Zhuhai center for public disease control, we understand that healthcare workers exposed to the virus are feeling increased stress, helplessness and fatigue,” she continued.
“IsraAID webinars are structured to support mental-health workers by providing a framework for reducing stress as well as sharing specialized information on stress, trauma, coping and resilience at this time.”
IsraAID co-CEO Yotam Polizer said the organization also is also monitoring the situation in South Korea, which has the second highest number of cases after China. “The organization is currently planning to respond in the city of Daegu, which is by far the hardest-hit in the country.”
IsraAID worked in South Korea in the past, providing psychosocial support trainings for organizations working with North Korean defectors and supporting mental health professionals working with families of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.
Regarding coronavirus, “Due to the stressful and unstable global situation, IsraAID is closely monitoring the situation in the most vulnerable countries around the world and will be ready to respond if needed,” Polizer tells ISRAEL21c.
IsraAID and its partners previously sent two shipments of medical supplies – including face masks, protective suits, and gloves – to Chinese hospitals experiencing shortages of vital protective gear. Similar supplies also have been sent from Israel by SmartAID and partners, by Magen David Adom and by professors at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.