From Sending PPE to the Navajo Nation to Responding with Compassion, The Task Force Rounds Up Its April COVID-19 Activities

As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, The Task Force for Global Health’s programs continue to work on on-going activities and projects that support the fight against COVID-19 and have taken on new projects to help address this global pandemic. Here are some of our programs COVID-19 updates from April.

Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics

The current coronavirus pandemic has caused immense suffering all over the world and – in all likelihood – will continue for many months to come. Never before has the power of compassion to uplift and sustain ourselves, our loved ones, our frontline workers, and our communities been more clear. While we can do very little at this time to alleviate the physical suffering of so many, The Task Force’s Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics (FACE) is curating a space, called the Compassion Hub, to foster overall wellness – drawing on the wisdom of our partners and leaders in compassion and health. We hope the resources you find at the Compassion Hub may help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this difficult time. Stay tuned for the Hub’s launch.

On April 29th, FACE – alongside the Global Learning Laboratory at the World Health Organization (WHO) — hosted the second event in their Global Health Compassion Rounds series. The focus of this quarter’s webinar was on compassion in COVID-19. We invited friends and colleagues from around the world to provide reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on their health systems and communities. They also shared perspectives on the need for greater compassion in global health and the power of compassion to transform health systems and improve health outcomes. The report from this webinar will be made available on our Compassion Hub, including a recording of the rounds.

Finally, FACE aims to use our voice to elevate important conversations about COVID-19 that go beyond virus and disease – including important social justice issues and structural inequalities that have not only been made more clear by this pandemic, but exacerbated in the most vulnerable communities. Read more about using compassion against stigma in FACE’s latest blog post on “The Beat.”

MedSurplus Alliance

Earlier in April, Georgia Winson, President and Executive Director of Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, received a desperate request for medical supplies from a member of the Navajo Tribe in Chinle, Arizona.

“I am a member of the Navajo Tribe from Chinle, AZ. It is well known worldwide that our country, states and local communities are faced with devastating public health issues amid COVID-19. Navajo is the largest Native American Tribe in the United States. Currently, the COVID-19 virus is sweeping across our nation and we are faced with a spike in death and more positive cases daily,” said the request.

“Our front line clinical staff, nurses, hospital support staff, and patients are running out of supplies such as non-surgical masks, hand sanitizer, new born diapers, baby wipes, tissues and gloves just to mention a few. Non-surgical mask and gloves are utilized on patients presenting to our health care facilities. We are doing an outreach for donations of items listed above on behalf of local Chinle Health Care Facilities.”

As a member of The Task Force’s MedSurplus Alliance (MSA), Winson shared the request with our network of MSA Accredited Medical Surplus Recovery Organizations, and Medical Bridges immediately responded. According to President and CEO Walter Ulrich, “Medical Bridges was privileged this past Friday to donate 210 N95 masks and 900 surgical masks to the Navajo Nation. To me, the key is that through the MSA, sister organizations work together to help those that are underserved. Georgia’s role is just as important as is Medical Bridges, and it is the partnership we all share through the MSA that make us better as a group than we could be as individual organizations.” 

Learn more about how MSA is helping to equip health facilities in the United States and globally with much needed personal protective equipment and supplies. 

Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network

As the global network of Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs), The Task Force’s Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) is providing support to FETPs to ensure that these programs have the resources they need to respond effectively to COVID-19. Across more than 100 countries, FETPs build country capacity for detection and response to outbreaks like COVID-19 by training the public health workforce in field epidemiology and other vital public health competencies. FETP trainees and alumni contribute directly to outbreak preparedness and response. Currently, FETP trainees and alumni around the world are involved in all eight of the World Health Organization’s pillars of public health emergency preparedness and response for COVID-19 (including, for example, surveillance, case management and investigation, risk communications, and infection prevention and control).

To help FETPs respond to COVID-19, TEPHINET is offering emerging capacity-building grants of up to $20,000 to programs for eligible activities supporting their COVID-19 response efforts. TEPHINET is also providing operational support to programs and projects to strengthen FETPs for COVID-19 response.

In addition, TEPHINET is facilitating the exchange of information and resources on COVID-19 across its network of FETPs, beginning with its online FETP alumni community, TEPHIConnect, and the Coronavirus Knowledge Hub on the TEPHINET website (please note that the structure and content of this hub currently are being updated). TEPHINET is also hosting monthly global teleconferences for FETPs to report on their response efforts and challenges and seek support.

To all of our colleagues on the frontlines of this pandemic, we acknowledge your efforts; your commitment and fortitude are a gift to the world. 

The Task Force’s NTD Programmatic Activities

The Task Force’s five programs that focus on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have altered their operations to relocate resources and manpower to pandemic response in respective countries and ensure the safety of those whom we serve, our partners, and our staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about how those programs are operating in this announcement published on April 21, 2020.

Header photo caption: The Egyptian FETP does a pre-outbreak simulation training at an airport to prepare for disease surveillance and testing procedures. Photo courtesy of the Egyptian FETP.

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