NEWS & STORIES

COVID-19: Helping Countries Strengthen their Systems to Respond

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April 1, 2020: JSI has worked to strengthen health systems for more than 40 years, helping countries, states, public health agencies, and facilities deliver services that can meet people’s needs and withstand shocks. Today the world’s health systems are experiencing such a shock with COVID-19.

JSI implements programs in more than 40 countries, and our teams of public health professionals are being asked to support government efforts in many of them. Around the world, JSI colleagues and our partners are applying the knowledge we have gained from years of responding to public health crises—from SARS and Ebola to avian flu and cholera—to bolster the systems that people need in times like these. 

In many countries, JSI teams have been included in Ministry of Health emergency response and technical working groups, helping develop policies to keep people—both health providers and the general public—safe.

In Burkina Faso, the Ministry of Health is using the One-Health platform that JSI helped to develop to track COVID-19 cases, testing, and contact tracing across the country. We provided additional 66 tablets to help with data entry in the Centre Region (Ouagadougou) and avoid the risks of transmission with paper-based reports. The JSI team is taking an active part in the COVID-19 surveillance working group and is providing key support to the government of Burkina Faso in this difficult time.

Given JSI’s deep understanding and experience with supply chains, both routine and during pandemics, in Zambia, JSI’s USAID DISCOVER-Health project is assisting with the procurement of equipment, commodities, and supplies required to address the response. We are contacting suppliers to determine what can be sourced locally and what must be ordered internationally, and are determining lead times for critical supplies.

In Pakistan, where the focus has long been on global health security, JSI, through the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening and Service Delivery (IHSS-SD) project, has been supporting design and development of policy documents and guidelines, improving coordination between Federal and provincial departments in collaboration with Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination and the National Institute of Health since the project launched in 2018. The project is now helping address the current coronavirus pandemic and will provide orientation to health service providers public and private to address the COVID-19 in all 154 districts across Pakistan.

IHSS-SD will also support the national rollout of a customized easy-to-use smartphone application for increased surveillance and reporting of cases. The app will generate alerts by both public- and private-sector providers.

At the federal level, IHSS-SD will support the Federal Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division by establishing an interface of a national Health Alert system at the NIH. In addition, the project will strengthen several Pakistan points of entry, supporting staff training on the use of the smartphone technology and COVID-19 reporting.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IHSS-SD project was working to establish disease surveillance and response units in three districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two districts in Sindh. This activity is now being expanded to support COVID-19 surveillance at provincial and district levels across Pakistan with USAID funding. The rapid response teams will be trained to respond to health alerts generated at district levels.

Furthermore, the JSI team has handed over 13 ambulances in project districts, equipping each with a separate compartment for driver and paramedic, which is ideal to transport patients with infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Given JSI’s deep understanding and experience with supply chains, both routine and during pandemics, in Zambia, JSI’s USAID DISCOVER-Health project is assisting with the procurement of equipment, commodities, and supplies required to address the response. We are contacting suppliers to determine what can be sourced locally and what must be ordered internationally, and are determining lead times for critical supplies.

In the United States, JSI staff have been deployed to support state health department efforts to respond to COVID-19. Staff are assisting with triage and responding to inquiries from the public, businesses, and health care providers. In addition, staff who have nursing degrees are providing support to case investigation and contact notification efforts. JSI staff have also provided just-in-time training to volunteers in COVID-19 response processes, and are implementing process improvements so that health department employees can focus on the many complex aspects of the public health response. JSI staff are honored to help our health department colleagues throughout this public health crisis.

In Timor-Leste, JSI’s Reinforce Basic Health Services Project is increasing the ability of the country’s national laboratory to do COVID-19 testing safely and securely through an emergency procurement of bio-safety equipment.

The project is working with the National Health Training Institute and the Ministry of Health to strengthen infection prevention and emergency preparedness skills among health workers. Through the Reinforce Project, JSI is also enhancing quality improvement protocols related to infection prevention and preparedness in Covalima district. We are conducting regular facility assessments, during which we give information and coaching on how to prevent transmission, and identify and treat COVID-19 patients. We are also sharing updates and basic hygiene practices through community health promotion to protect communities more broadly. 

These are just a few of the ways that JSI programs and staff are currently using our expertise to strengthen health systems to improve services—and ultimately, people’s health. 

Protect Yourself and Your Community. Help stop the spread of COVID-19: Clean your hands often. Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep 6 feet away from others when possible. If you feel sick, stay home when you can. Listen for orders from your local government to stay home. Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow. Learn more about COVID-19 and if you have further questions, the WHO is continuously monitoring and responding to this outbreak, visit their Q&A page updated regularly.

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