Basics’ Partners Mobilize Global Responses to Combat Pandemic’s Impacts

This post is part of a series authored by the BASICS (Bold Action to Stop Infections in Clinical Settings) team. BASICS is a new initiative that will transform healthcare and reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by at least 50%.

With frightening speed, COVID-19 has turned the world on end. Over 1.9 million cases had been confirmed in 213 countries or territories as of April 15, according to the World Health Organization. Borders have been sealed, travel bans and lockdowns have been implemented, and health systems are under immense pressure.

All four BASICS partners have pivoted quickly to help. We have mobilized responses that put us on the front line – producing research, guidance and recommendations for governments and task forces; strengthening the ability of health systems in low- and middle-income countries to respond through training, supplies and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure; and helping to directly alleviate the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable populations.

Here are highlights of the ways that Save the Children, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, WaterAid and Kinnos are leveraging our expertise in global health – the same expertise that BASICS draws on – to react to this unprecedented crisis. 

Save the Children
Save the Children has mobilized a response unlike any other humanitarian mission in its more than 100 years of alleviating the needs of vulnerable and marginalized children. It was among the very first international aid organizations to deliver critical supplies to health workers and provide families with trusted information to reduce transmission and keep children safe.

It is supporting 500,000 community health workers and plans to support another 100,000 over the next six months by providing them with resources, tools and skills to deliver essential services to treat common childhood illnesses and malnutrition, and to recognize symptoms and prevent COVID-19. Many of its country offices are working with Ministries of Health to equip local health workers with protective equipment and medical supplies, training and emotional and professional support.

It is supporting 500,000 community health workers and plans to support another 100,000 over the next six months by providing them with resources, tools and skills to deliver essential services to treat common childhood illnesses and malnutrition, and to recognize symptoms and prevent COVID-19. Many of its country offices are working with Ministries of Health to equip local health workers with protective equipment and medical supplies, training and emotional and professional support.

  • In-country and international health staff in Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan and Tanzania are participating in and advising national COVID-19 task forces or technical working groups.
  • In Malawi, Save the Children teams have collaborated with the Ministry of Health to develop and disseminate simple messages on handwashing and have set up sample handwashing stations at the Ministry building.
  • In Sierra Leone, Save the Children has reprised its role in the 2015-16 Ebola outbreak response by engaging in COVID-19 coordination mechanisms at the national level and in its districts of operation. National staff attend daily COVID-19 coordination meetings and have an active part in the development and dissemination of national COVID prevention messages. They are collaborating with the government on training community health workers on COVID prevention, so that they can pass accurate information to their communities.
  • In select refugee contexts where populations are extremely vulnerable and social distancing is impossible in overcrowded camps and settlements, such as camps of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the agency will work with local health authorities to support isolation and treatment of those with COVID-19.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

LSHTM experts are involved in a diverse range of COVID-19 research initiatives and are providing technical support and guidance to governments and organizations. LSHTM has a strong track record of responding to emergencies and major outbreaks, whether through research or by providing immediate information, advice, courses and action on the ground.

There are a number of specific LSHTM COVID-19 responses directly related to the goals of BASICS. The School is hosting a massive open online course summarizing the latest evidence on COVID-19. Members of the LSHTM community are actively involved in providing expert commentary on COVID-19 response relevant to low- and middle-income countries, including the role of cleaning and the risks from hand-touch sites by Professor Wendy Graham from the BASICS team.

LSHTM experts are providing technical support to the UK government and Unilever’s Hygiene Behaviour Change Coalition. Its researchers have also developed and are coordinating the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub – a broad partnership that will provide technical resources and dedicated support to government and organizations implementing hygiene programs to combat COVID-19 transmission and provide a platform for communication and learning among partners.

Water Aid

The first phase of WaterAid’s COVID-19 response is focused on delivering key hygiene behavior change campaigns in coordination with national governments, distributing materials such as soap, water, personal protection equipment and, where possible, handwashing stations. WaterAid’s experts are providing technical support to national governments and key coordinating mechanisms.

  • In Bangladesh, WaterAid’s ‘Fight Corona’ campaign, which uses social media and radio, has reached over 3 million people. It has installed free handwashing facilities in public areas such as bus stops, railway stations, markets and shopping malls.
  • In Pakistan, 22 million people across the country have been reached through a similar WaterAid awareness campaign on the importance of handwashing with soap and social distancing. The campaign uses regional and local languages and has been broadcast over radio, local cable networks and through SMS service. WaterAid has also installed handwashing facilities in hospitals, quarantine centers and public places in Islamabad, Lahore, Multran, Muzzaffargarh, Mardan and Quetta districts in close coordination with the district administrations.
  • In Zambia, WaterAid is working with celebrities and artists to record hygiene promotion videos that are being posted on social media. For example, Pompi, a popular musician, produced a music video on handwashing and promoted a #handwashingchallenge #Kutuba2020
  • In Malawi, WaterAid has developed a pedal handwashing device to reduce contact with soap and taps.
  • In Cambodia, through the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union of Cambodia, WaterAid is providing guidance and online training for members to create simple hand hygiene facilities using local recycled materials. It is providing hand hygiene facilities and materials to hospitals and medical students for training. WaterAid and the National Institute of Public Health are also undertaking a rapid assessment of the role of cleaners during the COVID-19 response and identifying knowledge gaps.

Kinnos

Kinnos provided its Highlight® color additive technology to hospitals in China during the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is now supplying various EMS/fire departments with Highlight® to help decontaminate ambulances and PPE equipment, and to hospitals for disinfecting screening rooms. Kinnos has also started manufacturing hand sanitizers to aid in the shortage and has provided them to multiple medical organizations.