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Key health system strategies that are crucial in responding to COVID-19

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Added 26th March 2020 06:32 PM

One; create a system-level multidisciplinary task force of various stakeholders across all channels including risk management, communication, supply chain, human resources and infection control, to immediately create tools and resources in anticipation of the virus spreading in Uganda

Key health system strategies that are crucial in responding to COVID-19

Micheal Mugisha

One; create a system-level multidisciplinary task force of various stakeholders across all channels including risk management, communication, supply chain, human resources and infection control, to immediately create tools and resources in anticipation of the virus spreading in Uganda

COVID-19

By Micheal Mugisha

On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic, after the disease caused by the new coronavirus spread to more than 100 countries and led to tens of thousands of confirmed cases and thousands of deaths within a few months.  

WHO was deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity of COVID-19 and by the alarming levels of inaction.

This virus is spreading fast currently affecting 195 countries and territories around the world. The confirmed cases are 435,002 and over 19,000 deaths have been recorded. Recoveries currently stand at about 111, 870.

It is important to note that whereas the outbreak started in Wuhan City, the bulk of these cases and fatalities are now outside China and the virus is fast spreading internationally. So far, about 20% of the confirmed cases have been classed as severe or critical, about 15% to 20% of the hospital cases have been categorized as "severe." Note that the current death rate varies between 0.7% and 3.4% depending on the location and quick and crucial access to good hospital care.

COVID-19 possesses a significant threat to humanity given how fast it is spreading and the potential it has to overwhelm the existing healthcare systems. Uganda has so far registered 14 confirmed cases of this virus and this number could rise.

As Government implements various measures to prevent the spread of the virus and also treat the already confirmed cases, here are a number of strategies on how the Ministry of Health could effectively respond to the pandemic.

One; create a system-level multidisciplinary task force of various stakeholders across all channels including risk management, communication, supply chain, human resources, and infection control, to immediately create tools and resources in anticipation of the virus spreading in Uganda.

Two; effectively develop and implement protocols at emergency, inpatient and outpatient facilities to quickly identify, isolate and inform stakeholder patients as per WHO and Government guidelines.

Three; ensure quick, effective and constant communication and education with health workers about the health system's plans to combat an outbreak in their community along with plans to keep them safe.

Four; develop, revise and perfect surge plans that will ensure all facilities are aware of surge capacity policies, implement visitor protocols and conduct live drills to identify any shortcomings before actual surges of COVID-19 patients.

Five; develop well-documented strategies, checklists, and protocols to ensure continuous education and training for health workers on how to effectively manage and care for COVID-19 patients. Moreover, such checklists and tools ensure that stuff don't forget crucial steps in dealing with pandemics.

Furthermore, six; immediately evaluate supplies of designated hospitals for patients with the virus to ensure that they have appropriate inventories, human resources and assess what contingencies are available to ensure that the existing supplies i.e. personal protective equipment and respiratory supplies will not diminish.

Seven; immediately provide surgical mask to patients with a fever or respiratory symptoms as a form of "source control" to prevent them from spreading the virus throughout the healthcare environment and eight; develop a telehealth program to screen and treat patients with viruses to help limit the spread, such a program can be effective in aiding response efforts in combating pandemics.

As the world embraces more COVID-19 cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries could climb even higher. Therefore, this calls for whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach build around comprehensive health system strategies to prevent infections, save lives and minimize the impact.

The writer is a research fellow- mmugisha@udn.or.ug

 

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