Guatemalan Government Moves Toward Distribution of 400,000 Doses of COVID-19 vaccine with HEP+ Help
February 2021 —
With the help of HEP+, the Guatemalan government is on track for a successful distribution of 400,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Astra Zeneca. After four months of HEP+ support, the Guatemalan government unveiled the National Vaccination Plan Against COVID-19 on February 9, will receive the vaccine in late February, and plans to begin distribution in the beginning of March. The vaccination process will cover several months and reach, in order, 1) health care workers, 2) those 70 and older, 3) people with pre-existing medical conditions, 4) other. HEP+ will continue to support the Ministry of Health for the full rollout.
HP+ Develops Guide for Home-based Care of Patients with Mild and Moderate COVID-19
February 2021 —
While some patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection require hospitalization, most can be cared for at home. HP+ developed a new visual guide, COVID-19 Home-Based Quality Care: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Workers, to help healthcare workers educate patients, their families, and other household members on how to care for patients at home and prevent transmission of the virus. The guide also provides healthcare workers with information on caring for special conditions and identifying the need for timely referral to a hospital. The guide is equally useful for personal use or when caring for a household member with COVID-19. The guide is available for download in Spanish and English from the HP+ website and via the UCSF Open Critical Care Portal.
HP+ Supports Health Experts to Develop Intervention Plans in the Stratification of Territories for COVID-19
February 2021 —
HEP+ is training local leaders and experts in Guatemala on how to plan for and deliver services related to COVID-19. The training is designed to help participants work with local authorities in planning for both COVD-19 care and prevention services. So far, 130 area chiefs, epidemiologists, statisticians, and heads of service provision from five health areas have taken the course. In addition to these three trainings, reaching leaders from Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Retalhuleu, Suchitepéquez and Sacatepéquez health areas, HP+ is planning an additional three sessions. At the conclusion of the in-person training, HP+ will index the material and make it available throughout the country, giving health experts quicker access to this information to better respond to the ongoing pandemic.
HP+ Supports Guatemalan Hospital Personnel Training on the Use of Ventilators Donated by the United States
January 2021 —
HP+ has helped coordinate the donation of 50 ventilators, facilitated by USAID, to the Guatemalan Ministry of Health. In early December, HP+ provided more than 100 medical and paramedical personnel from five Guatemalan hospitals in-person training in the use of ventilators. Equipped with improved treatment protocols and patient care options, healthcare workers will be able to immediately use the ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients. They will also be able to provide other necessary therapies for adults and children in need of ventilator support. In upcoming weeks, HP+ will provide training for two additional hospitals and will continue to provide technical assistance to ensure adequate use and handling of the equipment.
Epidemiological Report on the COVID-19 Pandemic in Honduras
January 2021 —
HP+ has helped the government of Honduras develop and publish an extensive epidemiological report of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. This report has provided useful information to not only government agencies but also outside parties such as journalists and clinicians. With the publication of this report, the Health Surveillance Unit in the Secretariat of Health is positioned to produce monthly epidemiological reports that capture new and emerging data, such as that from rapid diagnostic tests, while also continuing to improve the quality of reported epidemiological indicators in the country. The report provides key epidemiological data from March 10, 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was identified in Honduras, through November 14, 2020 (epidemiological weeks 11-46).
The Long-Term Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Africa: Where Do We Go from Here?
December 2020 —
In a new HP+ blog entry published December 16, Steven Forsythe and Suneeta Sharma discuss the direct and indirect economic impacts of COVID-19 on African economies, including food insecurity, poverty, education, and health. The co-authors provide recommendations to prepare multisectoral responses for a future pandemic. “Health programs cannot focus solely on COVID-19 and must instead also focus on other health concerns that have been affected by COVID-19, including access to family planning and reproductive health services; maternal and child health services; and malaria, tuberculosis and HIV prevention and treatment,” they state. “Thus, health systems strengthening must be a priority not only as a health measure, but also to reduce the economic implications of COVID-19.”
Building Capacity in El Salvador’s COVID-19 Response
November 2020 —
In El Salvador, HP+ engaged 83 healthcare professionals in 20 facilities across six municipalities to adapt and disseminate evidence-based guidelines and pilot a training for clinical management of COVID-19. The guidelines and training, which cover diagnosis and treatment, as well as triage, hospital referral, home care management, and infection prevention and control, have strengthened COVID-19 response efforts within primary healthcare and household settings and improved patient perceptions of safety. Moving forward, the training will be expanded to include additional content for nurses and cascaded to enhance the capacity of healthcare professionals to engage effectively in the COVID-19 response in El Salvador.
Mentoring and Supporting Youth Clubs in Malawi Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
October 2020 —
In Malawi, youth clubs are thriving, enabling young people to continue to access youth-friendly health services (YFHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 45 youth clubs in Mangochi, trained by HP+ and the USAID AgDiv Project in June 2019 on enterprise and entrepreneurship, have been mentored by an HP+-trained multisectoral ministry team and youth champion during the pandemic. They have invested approximately MWK 459,000 (US$611) in their respective centers, supporting the provision of YFHS and information on COVID-19 to youth throughout the region.
Examining Respectful Maternity Care: Brave Voices, Bold Actions Podcast
October 2020 —
To take a closer look into women’s and girls’ self-articulated demands for their own healthcare, HP+ partner White Ribbon Alliance launched the Brave Voices, Bold Actions: Women’s Health, Rights & You podcast. Season one takes a deep dive into respectful maternity care through the lens of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter. Throughout 10 episodes, the podcast features the voices of brave women, girls, health professionals, and global leaders who discuss changes that should be made to improve sexual, reproductive, and maternal health outcomes, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 101 on YouTube in Guatemala
September 2020 —
Last month, more than 2,300 public and private sector health professionals in Guatemala participated in five hours of live training on COVID-19. The two sessions—broadcast on YouTube—featured presentations from top local experts and interactive questions from viewers. Since airing, more than 18,000 additional views have been recorded. In coordination with key health sector stakeholders, HEP+ facilitated and moderated the sessions and solicited participant input for future trainings. With a solid foundation of knowledge on the basics of COVID-19, health professionals nationwide will be able to improve practices in service delivery to support Guatemala’s pandemic response.
Healthcare Workers in Honduras Trained on Use of U.S. Government-Provided COVID Equipment
September 2020 —
In collaboration with USAID, Project EpiC, and the Honduran Ministry of Health, HP+ has trained nearly 400 frontline healthcare workers providing critical care to COVID-19 patients across Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, home to approximately 70 percent of COVID-19 patients in Honduras. Healthcare workers used a training curriculum, developed with HP+ support, on use of U.S. Government-donated ventilators and infection prevention and control protocols to enable them to provide mechanical ventilation to patients and protect themselves from COVID-19 in their workplaces. At an August 28 virtual celebration with the Honduran Minister of Health Alba Flores, EpiC Project Director Hally Mahler, and USAID Honduras Director of Education Meredith Fox, Flores thanked the U.S. Government and HP+ for their support. She remarked, “The capacity development processes and the ventilation equipment have strengthened care provision” in Honduras, and that “the pandemic has challenged our medical and nursing professionals to improve their knowledge and practices.”
Supporting Revision of Honduras’s COVID-19 Isolation Guidelines
August 2020 —
HP+ supported the Honduran Ministry of Health to revise COVID-19 isolation criteria using a symptoms-based strategy in place of laboratory results-based processes. The new criteria, which align with international guidance, shorten required isolation time for improving non-severe and non-immunocompromised cases and asymptomatic cases and no longer require a negative real-time PCR test. HP+ supported local professional medical networks and the Pan American Health Organization to facilitate clinical discussions, update the guidance, and implement the guidelines. The revised criteria will allow facility staff who meet the revised criteria to safely leave isolation earlier and return home to their families.
Religious Leaders in Malawi Commit to Spreading Message of Antiretroviral Treatment Adherence
August 2020 —
In Malawi’s Chikwawa district, faith healers have been discouraging community members living with HIV from taking antiretroviral therapy (ART). Concerned that this may lead to ART defaults and increased death, religious mother body PECHANOMA facilitated a dialogue with other leaders in July, with HP+ support, to reinforce their role in emphasizing accurate messaging around HIV and COVID-19 and the importance of continuity in ART for people living with HIV. The leaders committed to continue disseminating accurate HIV messaging in their communities by holding meetings with religious and local leaders, disseminating radio and TV messages, and using mobile vans with loudspeaker systems.
‘Safer Together’ Campaign Focuses on Respectful Maternity Care Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
August 2020 —
Following an HP+ analysis that showed the potential impacts on maternal and neonatal deaths and stillbirths that could occur as a result of declining maternal health services due to diverted services and reduced coverage indirectly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, HP+ partner the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) developed and launched the “Safer Together” Respectful Maternity Care advocacy and communications campaign. The campaign is being used by WRA National Alliances and other stakeholders in USAID priority countries—including Pakistan, India, Malawi, and Indonesia—to convene stakeholders, advocate for joint action, and disseminate joint messages to women, communities, and providers.
Webinar Features Fiscal Space Analyses of Indonesia and the Philippines
August 2020 —
Since the emergence of COVID-19, the debate on whether health should be re-prioritized in government budgets with explicit allocations and earmarks has re-emerged. On July 27, an HP+ webinar featured recent analyses of fiscal space for health conducted by USAID’s ProtectHealth project in the Philippines and HP+ in Indonesia. In “Fiscal Space for Health in the Era of COVID-19: Constraints and Choices in Preserving Gains for Indonesia and the Philippines,” speakers—including high-level finance ministry officials from both countries—highlighted current fiscal constraints, government budgetary responses to the COVID-19 crunch on revenues, and possible avenues through which additional financing could be raised.
Webinar Highlights How Health Policy Is Essential to Enabling Service Provision in a Pandemic
August 2020 —
On July 30, an HP+ webinar, “Pivoting During COVID-19: How Health Policy Enables Service Provision in a Pandemic,” showcased the COVID-19 public health response underway in several countries, featuring ongoing service delivery activities in Brazil, El Salvador, and Honduras. Among the speakers were Mariella Ruiz-Rodriguez, an education development officer from USAID/Honduras. Evidence-based health policies allow countries to quickly and effectively pivot from business as usual to full-scale pandemic response. Longer-term strategies that ensure a continuum of care are likewise essential to support. The webinar considered what a holistic COVID-19 response looks like: focused on service delivery and informed by local realities.
Rapid Response in Honduras Trains Healthcare Workers on Ventilator Use
July 2020 —
HP+ provided technical assistance to the Honduran Ministry of Health to conduct a rapid assessment of 22 critical care facilities across the country. This rapid evaluation assessed the readiness of hospitals to receive and use U.S. Government-donated ventilation equipment; an in-depth assessment is scheduled to be completed by August 15 in collaboration with Project EpiC. Correspondingly, HP+ launched a training series on the use of the ventilators and infection prevention and control. More than 120 (out of 460) healthcare workers have participated to date.
Analyzing Indirect Health Impacts of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso
July 2020 —
HP+ analyzed how COVID-19 may disrupt health services in Burkina Faso, based on the level of face-to-face interaction with healthcare workers required to deliver interventions and the degree to which the interventions are time-sensitive or can be delayed without significant health impacts. Across the five health areas analyzed—family planning, maternal and child health, tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria—authors estimate that between 4,800 and 19,700 additional deaths could occur in 2020 alone as a result of disruptions from the pandemic. Burkina Faso is taking steps to maintain essential services and find ways to adjust service delivery models to mitigate these potential impacts.
Webinar Features Liberia’s Journey to Private Sector Engagement
July 2020 —
An HP+ webinar on July 8 featured a discussion on Liberia's private sector response to COVID-19 and the Healthcare Federation of Liberia’s efforts to stimulate coordinated private sector engagement in health following a private sector assessment undertaken by HP+ in 2019. Dr. Cuallau Jabbeh-Howe of Liberia’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Nicole Cooper of the Healthcare Federation of Liberia, and Dr. Amit Thakker of Africa Health Business shared reflections on opportunities and challenges of private sector engagement in health and discussed possibilities for collaboration between the public and private health sectors in Liberia. Listen to the webinar here.
Supporting the Government of Cambodia’s COVID-19 Response
July 2020 —
On June 24, the Prime Minister of Cambodia officially launched a new cash transfer program to offset the impacts of COVID-19 on the country’s poor and vulnerable that will begin with the transfer of about US$50 million to 560,000 poor households. HP+ had supported Cambodia’s General Secretariat for the National Social Protection Council (GS-NSPC) to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) concept note for the program and provided technical assistance to the GS-NSPC team and GIZ contractor implementing COVID-19 M&E activities, improving accountability among local authorities. In Cambodia, health service disruptions related to COVID-19 could potentially result in 559,900 individuals being unable to access contraceptives.
HP+ Analysis Spurs Private Sector Donation of Supplies to Fight COVID-19 in Niger
June 2020 —
HP+ recently conducted an analysis of available equipment and supplies required to fight COVID-19 in Niger’s capital, Niamey. The analysis pointed to the need for an increase in hygiene supplies to effectively combat the pandemic. As a result, the Bank of Africa Foundation provided handwashing kits to 20 health facilities in the city. The handwashing kits, which are valued at more than one million CFA (approximately US$1,700), are in addition to the 373 million CFA (approximately US$640,000) already granted by the Association of Banks and other financial establishments to the Nigerien government to aid in its pandemic response.
HP+ Supports the Creation of a Ventilator Task Force to Combat COVID-19 in Honduras
June 2020 —
As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise dramatically in Central America, HP+ is supporting the Honduran government to create a Ventilator Task Force to optimize distribution and use of donated ventilators for the most severe cases. Working with the USAID-funded EpiC project and other key stakeholders, the task force is launching a rapid assessment of ventilator readiness across the country’s major health facilities. The donated ventilators—anticipated to be as many as 300 from the U.S. Government alone—could almost double the current number of ventilators present in public sector facilities, saving countless lives in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Get more details in our news article.
New Blog: Policy Recommendations to Maintain Essential Services for Women and Girls during Pandemics
June 2020 —
The New Security Beat, a Wilson Center blog, published a piece by Sara Stratton, HP+ technical director for family planning and maternal and child health. Pandemic Preparedness: Strengthening Family Planning Policies Today to Secure Essential Services for Tomorrow discusses the COVID-19 response and threats to contraceptive access for women in low- and middle-income countries. It sets out policy recommendations to ensure essential services for women and girls are maintained during this and future pandemic responses, including policies on task sharing with private sector suppliers such as pharmacies; policies on self-injection of contraceptives; and gender-informed policies for a female-dominated healthcare workforce.
HP+ Supports Madagascar's Family Planning Action Plan During the COVID-19 Pandemic
June 2020 —
In May, HP+ supported Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health’s Family Health Directorate to convene two virtual meetings with the multisectoral family planning committee to address decreases in family planning and maternal and child health service use nationwide. The meetings resulted in development and finalization of a budgeted action plan to ensure continuity of family planning service availability for the 27 districts under stay-at-home orders imposed as a result of COVID-19. Plan activities include ensuring continued availability of family planning products, extending the DMPA subcutaneous auto-injection approach in three regions to prolong the amount of time between visits to health facilities, and emphasizing community health service provision.
Madagascar Validates New WASH Sector Policy
June 2020 —
In May, with HP+ support, Madagascar validated its new Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector policy through a virtual workshop led by the WASH minister and attended online by nearly 80 key stakeholders. Adoption of the new policy is a significant achievement within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it enables health facilities to install running water to support handwashing guidelines. Policy implementation, which will be facilitated through the forthcoming national WASH Strategy, aims to enable public access to potable water for the entire population by 2030—a significant increase from the current level of less than half of the population with access.
Youth Groups in Guatemala Leverage Social Media for COVID-19 Messaging
May 2020 —
Two civil society networks supported by HEP+ in Guatemala—Young Artists for Social Justice (JAxJS) and the Sexual and Reproductive Health Watchdog’s Youth Branch (OSAR Youth)—are disseminating key messages to contain the spread of COVID-19 through social media and radio. Local members of JAxJS have produced songs and poetry on preventing contagion, which target young Guatemalans, that receive an average of 7,000 daily views. OSAR Youth has disseminated key messages on the importance of continuing to provide reproductive health services and prevent teenage pregnancies. These civil society partners continue their advocacy efforts amidst the pandemic to maintain FP/RH, human rights, and policy development for disenfranchised populations on the government's policy agenda.