Faith-based Organizations and COVID-19

COVID-19 and the Vaccine: Report from Kenya

Mona Bormet, CCIH Program Director interviewed Dr. Samuel Mwenda, General Secretary of the Christian Health Association of Kenya about the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya on December 16, 2020. Dr. Mwenda discussed the spread of COVID and the COVID vaccine rollout in Kenya. Since the interview was conducted, the Government of Kenya has announced it has made a request to the African Union and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for 24 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CCIH Discussion Group

CCIH-COVID19 email discussion group for sharing news and resources about the COVID-19 virus, with special emphasis on the response from the faith community. Visit the Group Page and select Join the Group to subscribe.

Care for Congregations and Reducing Stigma: Guidance from World Vision International

Faith leaders have a central role in guiding their members towards healthy behavior change and providing spiritual, pastoral and practical support to those in need. There are seven important actions that faith leaders and faith communities of all traditions can take to protect life, reduce the spread of the virus and keep the community strong. Each of these seven actions is described in more detail in World Vision International’s Guidance for Faith Communities

See resources on how faith communities can mitigate fear and stigma including helpful do’s and dont’s for communities.

CDC Resources

Resources for Communities and Faith-based Organizations, including a Step-by-Step guide on COVID-19 for Faith and Community Leaders.

Communication and Community Engagement

The COVID-19 Communication and Community Engagement Hub has blogs, programs, strategies and more related to communicating to and engaging communities in COVID-19 education, prevention and preparedness.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health curates COVID-19 Communication and Behavior Change Resources in the COVID Communication Network.

This two-minute video produced by the Global Health Media Project shows how COVID-19 is transmitted and how people can protect themselves. It is designed for Community Health Workers to share with others.

Denominations, Churches and Congregations

The Anglican Alliance released a set of resources for churches that includes Spiritual and Theological Resources, such as prayers and Bible studies; guidance such as how to support community preparedness; helping marginalized groups; supporting people living in lock down; supporting children, and more.

The Canadian Bible Society developed a special digital edition of Words of Comfort to provide encouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Download the guide

The Online Faith Collective started in response to the requirements of social distancing during the COVID-19 response that keeps people from attending worship services. The site also has Resources for online worship and a way to add your suggested resources.

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College released these Resources for Churches. It includes: Preparedness Manual and Planning Template: “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual” and “Coronavirus Church Planning Template.” One of the unique features about this manual and template is that pastors and church leaders can download, complete, and save their plan digitally.

SIM developed How Your Local Church Can Respond to COVID-19, a video-based training initiative that is now available for local church leaders, church volunteers, chaplains and others responding to COVID-19. This training lends global voices – pastors, theologians and medical professionals from diverse backgrounds – to speak into four key module topics: 1. Churches Leading in the Context of COVID-19; 2. Community Spiritual and Supportive Care; 3. Trauma Healing;  4. Safe Practices for Community Care

The World Evangelical Alliance released Caring for a Family Member with COVID-19: A Guide for Church Education and Support,  a guide for churches to help families who are caring for a family member with COVID-19 at home. The World Health Organization recommends anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 receive treatment in a health facility. When this is not possible, these patients will be cared for either at home with their families or home alone. This guide is designed to help people who find themselves in such a situation. It is not a replacement for care from a trained health professional and does not suggest or imply that professional care is not necessary.

World Health Organization Guidance on Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19.

UNICEF and Religions for Peace developed Guidance for Faith Leaders how to adapt religious practices to maintain as much normalcy as possible, while stopping large gatherings from becoming superspreader events.

Health Institution Guidance

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Community, Faith-based Organizations including ChurchesHealthcare Professionals

Africa CDC Guidance on Community Social Distancing for COVID-19 to help communities understand the recommended practices to limit transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

World Health Organization: Latest Updates

How To Resources

Practical Advice on PPE in Low-Resource Settings

Thanks to SIM for sharing this very practical demonstration of how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers and how to make PPE out of commonly available items in low-resource settings. Deborah Eisenhut, MD of SIM shares her vast experience from the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the COVID-19 pandemic, including her firsthand knowledge of what works, and what to watch out for, when using PPE and training health staff. The video is full of very helpful and practical advice.

How to for Community Health Workers

This helpful Resource Packet has easy to understand instructions for constructing a Tippy Tap for hand washing, making face masks (with and without sewing), and how to triage potential patients. It was developed for community health workers in Malawi and is available in English and Chichewa. See Chichewa version

Mental Health

Coping with Stress during COVID-19, a one-page tip sheet from the World Health Organization.

Managing Stress – For Providers and Community Leaders (From the U.S. Veterans Administration) Helping people manage stress due to COVID-19 (available in Spanish)

Mental Health America has resources for dealing with the mental health impacts of COVID-19 (with a focus on the U.S.)

Psychosocial Support and Guidance for Communities from the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and IMA World Health.

Psychological Effects of Quarantine – from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Two-page fact sheet on what public health leaders should know about the psychological effects of quarantine.

Reducing Anxiety and Stress: This guide offers simple, practical coping methods to help strengthen mental health and resilience and reduce stress. Please be advised that this guide is not intended to replace any treatment or other professional help you may be receiving or feel you may need. Created by IsraAID, Dr. Debra Kalmanowitz, and AllenComm, in partnership with Merage Institute and Foundation House.

SIL International and other members of the Trauma Healing Alliance partnered to provide Trauma Healing Resources specific to the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 Trauma Healing lesson can be used in a group (online), with your family, or by an individual – even by those who have never used trauma healing materials before. There is also a lesson for families for use with children, (Peace, Be Still…) The COVID-19 Trauma Healing Lessons can be followed effectively by working through the Beyond Disaster booklet. See the separate Leader’s Guide for help with that process. There is also a guide for facilitating these materials and healing groups using the online Zoom application.

Nutrition and COVID-19

Samaritan’s Purse (SP) put together a brief on Nutrition and COVID-19,  including Guidance for Care Groups/Support Groups Adaptations. It includes an infographic and decision tree on breastfeeding and COVID, how to adjust acute malnutrition programs during the pandemic and links to many more resources.

Podcast Series on Faith and COVID-19

The Women Arise podcast series is hosting interviews with a variety of faith leaders to educate communities and dispel myths and misperceptions about COVID-19, including Christian, Islamic and Jewish leaders.

SMS Messages for Faith Leaders in Low-Internet Areas

CCIH partnered with HarperHill Global to collect mobile numbers to help people of faith and trusted community leaders share text messages in local languages about COVID-19 with their networks. Please use and share this form: to collect mobile numbers for faith and community leaders in those areas. Translations are available in a number of local languages. HarperHill Global was founded by Reverend Neelley Hicks, who employed this strategy during Ebola outbreaks to reach people who had access to mobile phones, but not the internet. Read about the effort during Ebola outbreaks.

Survey of FBO COVID Response

Faith-based organizations have critical links to religious leaders and faith communities who can play a central role in helping spread public health messages, and help people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic through trauma healing and spiritual support. Engagement with religious leaders and faith communities was game changing in previous epidemic responses, including the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. To identify how faith-based organizations are using their unique skills, assets and partnership to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and uncover unmet needs they face in their response, CCIH and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) circulated a survey through their networks in April 2020. The survey results reveal the majority of participants are responding, coordinating, and modifying programs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, although they face a number of challenges in doing so.  Survey Report

Tracking Religious Dimensions in COVID-19

The Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs launched an online repository to organize information in several categories, starting with recommendations on reliable sources of information about the pandemic itself. The platform focuses on (i) responses to directives to limit physical gatherings and their implications for religious communities; (ii) specific practices and adaptations of practices, messaging and advocacy, and countering negative religious voices; (iii) specific outreach to vulnerable people and communities; (iv) major advocacy efforts linked to religious actors; and (v) reflections on long term impacts and lessons. Sign up for daily emails here

The platform includes the results of a consultation of representatives from faith-based organizations, including CCIH, and secular partners. View Summary

Translations and Resources on COVID in Multiple Languages

Resources from CCIH Member and Language Experts SIL

    • Tips for Translators: SIL International developed Tips for Translators, a resource specially designed for those tasked with producing informational materials on COVID-19 in local languages. Suggested phrases in basic vocabulary make complex terminology easier to understand and to translate. They are available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
    • Extensive library of easy-to-read and share informational pieces in the Bloom COVID-19 Collection which can be easily adapted to other languages
    • SIL has compiled COVID-19 resources in lesser-known languages here. There are resources in world languages, national languages, and in regional or local languages.
    • General Resources compiled by SIL here.
    • SIL translated “Wash your hands” into hundreds of languages. See translations here

Other Language and Translated Resources

  • Triage Card in Chichewa (spoken in Malawi) to help community health workers recognize symptoms here (Triage Card in English)
  • Education Materials from Samaritan’s Purse in multiple languages here
  • COVID-19 Health Literacy Project produces material on COVID-19, which are reviewed and vetted by faculty members at Harvard Medical School, and are created in collaboration with Harvard Health Publishing. Fact sheets are available in at least 30 languages here
  • Hesperian Health Guides has a fact sheet on the virus in 19 languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Urdu, Bangla, Filipino, Bahasa Indonesia, Farsi, Sindhi, Telugu, Hindi, Portuguese, Chishona, Swahili, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, and Lao, available here
    • Staying Well in the Time of COVID by Hesperian (also in Spanish) here
    • Breathing exercises to strengthen lungs here
    • Identifying if an illness may be COVID here
  • The Minnesota Department of Health in the U.S. has materials about COVID-19 in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese here
  • The Washington State Department of Health and Seattle-King County Health Department have materials in on COVID-19 in Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese, and many other languages here
  • The Western New York Commission on Occupational Safety and Health has a very large collection of links to COVID-19 resources in many languages here.
  • The Presbyterian Mission Agency Presbyterian Disaster Agency has a resource on Preparedness For Pandemics to help congregations plan a response for worship and ministry continuation should the need arise. It is available in English, Korean, and Spanish here

World Council of Churches Resources

The World Council of Churches has a COVID-19 fact sheet and other resources here.

Ecumenical Global Health COVID-19 Response Framework | The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the church’s prophetic voice and action and its unparalleled potential to demonstrate love and compassion. The World Council of Churches convened church and healthcare leaders from many countries to deliberate and develop a framework to encapsulate their engagement with the pandemic. This framework outlines intervention strategies for a variety of stakeholders, as well as a vision of churches that will embrace a holistic approach to health. This can be done through mechanisms that provide

  • People with relevant, accurate information
  • Communities with resources to promote resilience and independence in managing their health
  • Church-based healthcare providers with possibilities to assess and respond to health needs in integrated ways
  • More visibility to the vital role of church-based health care providers
    in their local health systems.

With that vision, the framework identifies core challenges and response strategies.