With over 40 percent of its population living in poverty and high rates of social violence, Honduras faces a new threat with the emergence of COVID-19. While the country ranks second for economic growth in the Central American region and is strategically located with a growing industrial base, the pandemic’s toll has caused Honduras’ gross domestic product to retract. Yet with donor support, including from USAID through HP+, the government of Honduras is mobilizing to address the pandemic and build its capacity to respond.
HP+ is supporting Honduras to mount a rapid, adoptable, and effective early response to the pandemic. We are working through regional platforms—including the Northern Triangle Regional Technical Taskforce on Vaccination and the Learning Network COVID Response in Latin America—and providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health to strengthen the country’s COVID-19 response, including surveillance, prevention and care, laboratory capacity, and vaccination. The following provides examples of our work in these four areas:
Case-Management and Infection Prevention Control
Mapping COVID-19 case management guidelines and identifying and helping to resolve gaps
Identifying hospital critical care capacity and needs, developing actionable plans to distribute and install mechanical ventilators donated by the U.S. Government, and training healthcare workers with continued coaching from local partners
Establishing robust practices for cleaning and aggregating laboratory and regional surveillance data and training central-level surveillance staff
Creating new tools for regional data collection and management and establishing processes to merge data into a central repository
Improving the quality of data visualization to aid in COVID-19 reporting and planning
Analyzing and disseminating critical, missing data about laboratory testing capacity
Assessing lab capacity to meet testing demand
Developing protocols to increase the quality and turnaround time of laboratory processes
Introducing new technology for PCR testing, improving the selection of samples for sequencing and detection of new SARS-CoV-2 variants
Developing and implementing new information systems for laboratory sample management, improving inventory control and supply forecasting
Advising USAID Honduras on how to identify critical priorities for vaccine deployment
Providing high-level policy, planning, and coordination support to the Ministry of Health on the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and on the development and implementation of financial and budgetary management, training, communications, and information systems
Strengthening internal and external coordination and communication for vaccine deployment
Providing Critical COVID-19 Response, HP+ Honduras Closes with Notable Achievements
July 2022 —
USAID held the closing event of its Health Policy Plus project in Honduras in July, 14, 2022. The event was attended by Dr. José Manuel Matheu, Minister of Health; Michelle Dworkin, Acting Deputy Mission Director of USAID Honduras; as well as other key actors from the Ministry of Health and civil society. Due to gathering restrictions, 30 people attended in person, and 87 watched on livestream. Speakers noted significant accomplishments made or supported by HP+, including 25 policy actions, 5,538 healthcare workers trained, 4,567 visits to HP+’s YouTube training, and 60 workshops through the HP+ implementation period. The ministry is committed to sustaining the activities initiated by HP+ and continuing its engagement with USAID in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through its Data.FI project. Read more in our news story.
Healthcare Workers in Honduras Trained on Psychological Support for Victims and Survivors of Violence
July 2022 —
In response to COVID-19-related stress and a 16 percent increase in domestic violence reports after the onset of the pandemic, HP+ developed and delivered a three-day training for 43 staff members from eight of Honduras's health regions in psychosocial first aid and guidelines for mental healthcare and psychosocial support for victims and survivors of all forms of violence, with a special emphasis on care of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The training was held virtually in late April 2022. The average knowledge gain among participants who completed the pre- and post-tests was 23 percent. In addition, HP+ developed posters and a pamphlet for health facilities to inform healthcare workers and raise awareness of the critical topics of mental health and psychosocial support associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health plans to distribute the materials to approximately 400 of the country’s prioritized primary care centers.
Evaluation and Strengthening of Surveillance, Control, and Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections in Honduras
July 2022 —
HP+ is supporting the Honduran Ministry of Health to create a robust strategy for the surveillance, control, and prevention of healthcare-associated infections to help improve the quality of care provided in hospitals and prepare for future threats. As part of this effort, from June 2021 to May 2022, HP+ worked with the Ministry of Health to evaluate surveillance, control, and prevention of healthcare-acquired infections in 20 of the country’s 32 hospitals. For the infection, prevention, and control evaluation, findings showed significant differences between hospitals with 10% at a basic level, 55% at an intermediate level, and 35% at an advanced level. For the hand hygiene evaluation, levels were slightly lower. Findings and suggestions from hospital teams were used to develop strategic policy guidance. In late May to early June 2022, the strengthening phase of the activity began, including both a virtual pre-workshop with 91 participants and a two-day in-person workshop in Tegucigalpa with 26 participants. These activities trained infection prevention and control teams and quality coordinators from 11 hospitals in the use of quality improvement tools and supported them in the development of improvement plans for the control and prevention of healthcare-acquired infections. These activities were chaired by the Ministry of Health authorities for hospital-level care and quality who plan to continue training additional hospitals.
Training on Updated Guide for Home Management of COVID-19 Patients Rolled Out in Honduras
July 2022 —
In early 2022, HP+ and several Honduran Ministry of Health units updated the Guide for Home Management of Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Patients to expand on vaccination, mental health and psychosocial support, and other lessons after one year of the onset of the pandemic. HP+ then facilitated several training sessions in April at different leadership levels in the health regions, delivering four four-hour training sessions to 74 people from 18 health regions (90% of all Honduran health regions). As a result, participants had a 10% improvement in knowledge (85% pre-training and 95% post-training). In early June, HP+ accompanied the trainers in two workshops where they replicated the training for over 250 healthcare staff. These activities were possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of the Ministry of Health of Honduras, specifically the Directorate of First Level of Care Services and various civil society organizations. This joint action aims to ensure the sustainability of capacity-building activities and the promotion of suitable materials for patients, families, and friends.
HP+ recently trained Honduran microbiologists on technology that delivers faster and better targeted testing for the COVID-19 virus. The new technology, called TaqPath, incorporates a reagent that cuts the time required for diagnostics from two hours to one, increasing the number of samples that can be processed per lab per day from 500 to 800. In addition, it will allow Honduran scientists to sequence samples that they previously sent to Brazil for further analysis. USAID provided the materials and reagents for the training and processing of 100,000 samples. The May training involved more than 60 microbiologists from four laboratories in Honduras. A training of laboratory supervisors was followed by a seminar series on the use of TaqPath and molecular biology co-delivered by HP+ and manufacturer Thermo Fisher. Learn more about HP+ activities in Honduras.
3 Molecular Laboratories Brought Online in Honduras
May 2021 —
With financial and technical support from USAID, the Pan American Health Organization, and HP+, 3 new molecular laboratories were constructed in Cortes, Copan, and Atlantida. With these additional laboratories, the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results has been reduced from almost one month to 48 hours (previously, COVID-19 diagnostics were available only at the national laboratory in Tegucigalpa). By increasing the geographic distribution of laboratory capability, the Ministry of Health is now able increase the availability of testing and sample processing for communities across the country, improving COVID-19 response efforts at the local level. To support the opening of the laboratories, HP+ created standard operating procedures and strengthened the capacity of lab staff, including microbiologists and lab technicians, through technical training and certification in microbiology and sample processing.
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).
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.
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.
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.