COVID-19: One year later

Our project teams have witnessed the devastating impact of the pandemic on already weakened health systems and the side effects of the measures put in place to control its spread.

Many of the health centres we work with have had to redirect their scarce resources to prevent and manage the virus, and have had to stop or postpone several awareness-raising programmes and the distribution of contraceptives. In some cases, rumours and misinformation have resulted in lower attendance at health centres (due to fear of infection) and in others, have contributed to discrediting public health messages.

Several activities had to be paused or adapted: working remotely, strict application of barrier measures during essential travel, etc.

In all our projects, we have supported our local partners to contribute to national response plans, particularly in the areas of water, hygiene and sanitation, behaviour change, training of health staff and community actors. Some of our projects have received additional funding from Global Affairs Canada, which has allowed us to provide our partners with protective equipment and materials, as well as to enhance our prevention and training activities.

IN HAITI, several PRISMA2 team members contributed to the response coordination committees in Artibonite, and awareness-raising activities were organised to encourage the adoption of behaviours that reduce the transmission of COVID-19, such as handwashing with soap. (Read more)

IN BENIN, additional funding was provided to CCISD for the PASSRELLE project to implement activities that would increase the resilience of the health system and respond to COVID-19, in an environment that is supportive of gender equality and of women and girls’ health needs. More than 2,000 awareness raising activities have been organised to promote barrier measures and prevent the spread of COVID-19, nearly 800 community actors and community relays have been trained and seven governance structures have received equipment and protective material for contact tracing, among others.

IN DR CONGO, the ASSK project quickly articulated its actions with the national and provincial response plans, notably with :

  • Cash transfers to enable health facilities to continue to provide a maximum of services during the pandemic;
  • Equipment and inputs for hygiene and protection against infection;
  • water supply;
  • Awareness raising and promotion of preventive measures;
  • the provision of additional emergency medical equipment and the setting up of isolation units;
  • Capacity building for health workers in health facilities;
  • Improving biomedical waste management infrastructure to enable facilities to safely and effectively dispose of not only the increased amount of waste produced, but also the waste associated with the detection and management of COVID-19 cases. 

Read more

MALI, like several countries that have experienced Ebola epidemics, has an adaptable national health system that can mobilise for a rapid response. Two coordinating committees have been set up since March 2020: the central coordination unit and the crisis committee for the management of the Covid-19 and Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever epidemics. The Local Education Communities for Healthy Women and Girls (CLEFS) project has maintained relationships with these bodies since their establishment. (The CLEFS project is implemented by a consortium composed of CCISD, Cégep de Saint-Jérôme and Université de Sherbrooke, with funding from Global Affairs Canada). 

Training activities in university community health centres (CSCom-U) were supported to contribute to the following national outcomes:

  • Ensure a good understanding of the disease, the symptoms and the actions to be taken (what to do in case of potential COVID-19 cases);
  • Mastering the appropriate hygiene protocol for CSCom-U: hand washing, disinfection of equipment, wearing and removal of the procedure mask, physical distancing, etc.;
  • Ensure increased monitoring of gender-based violence and mental health issues in the context of the pandemic;
  • Ensure early access to health care;
  • Maintain essential preventive and health promotion activities.