Coronavirus and the Toll on Togo

The current pandemic affects medically vulnerable communities in Africa far differently from the developed world.

In the last few weeks, life has been turned on its head as countries around the world feel the strain of COVID-19, from death counts to job cuts, travel restrictions and more.

Meanwhile, healthcare providers (HCPs) around the world work tirelessly to try and heal those afflicted by the virus and prevent others from contracting it.

Virus trackers show African countries among those with lowest numbers of people infected. While this might be attributable to a lack of testing or reporting, the bottom line remains that no nation is fully immune. Healthcare providers thus face tremendous pressure that is rising with the virus case numbers.

Hospitals in Togo are no exception to that.

Many missionary doctors and nurses serving overseas face unique obstacles due to cultural and environmental differences in how healthcare is administered. Short-term and visiting healthcare workers are usually relied upon to come and share some of the workload, which in turn provides needed rest for the residing Togolese and missionary medical staff.

But Hôpital Baptiste Biblique (HBB) began feeling a squeeze in mid-March when the US began issuing travel restrictions. Short-term HCPs suddenly had to cancel their trips, meaning that in-house medical staff went from working “regular” shifts to working around-the-clock, caring for standard patients and bracing for a potential COVID-19 surge.

Though there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at HBB, the stress level remains high. HBB currently has a 50-bed capacity. Months before the outbreak, the HBB Vision Project to renew the hospital began, aimed at upgrading equipment and expanding the building complex—making it possible for HBB to more serve the Togolese in higher numbers.

Even construction efforts have been affected by government restrictions. The president of Togo announced a national three-month lockdown on April 2, heavily impeding both international and domestic travel. Hospital staff continue to pray for a quick end to the virus and trust God for provision.

In this time of crisis, field leadership needs prayer for wisdom to make decisions regarding hospital procedure and patient care. In addition to praying for the missionaries’ safety and health, please also be praying for our Togolese brothers and sisters.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Editor’s Note: You can help finish the mission in Togo and reach the rest of Africa by giving to the HBB renewal project.