On the Front Lines: Responding to COVID-19
With personal protective equipment, radio broadcasts and innovative mosquito net campaigns, countries are fighting COVID-19, shoring up health systems, and mitigating the impacts on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs. The Global Fund is supporting these efforts with immediate funding. Here’s where countries are directing that financial support to help stop the pandemic by uniting to fight.
Afghanistan is strengthening diagnostic capacity for COVID-19 and mitigating impact on malaria programs by expanding testing facilities outside the capital of Kabul and purchasing testing kits and antiseptics.
As the rainy season approaches in West and Central Africa, the Global Fund is working with partners to implement new strategies to distribute mosquito nets to protect families from malaria despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19. For the first time, community health workers in Benin went door to door to distribute more than 8 million mosquito nets across the country. About 5,500 community workers were mobilized to complete this lifesaving activity in 20 days.
Benin is also repurposing GeneXpert machines used for TB to also test for COVID-19 and purchasing 15,000 tests.
Bolivia is strengthening COVID-19 diagnostics and care among people living with HIV, and temporarily repurposing GeneXpert machines to expand diagnostic coverage.
In the Sahel, where health systems have been severely weakened by the security and humanitarian crisis, the Global Fund worked with countries to support an early response to the pandemic. In Burkina Faso, €3.2 million were allocated to provide 15 new ventilators to equip emergency units, molecular tests and equipment to strengthen laboratory capacity, personal protection equipment – including masks and gloves – for 17,900 community health workers to support contact tracing and ensure the continuity of their activities during the crisis.
In Cambodia, mosquito nets have been distributed through door-to-door campaigns. Health workers have received personal protective equipment and training on how to use remote working technologies.
Using Global Fund’s grant flexibilities, €3.5 million were allocated to Cameroon to support the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain the gains made against HIV, TB and malaria. These funds were used to procure 3.5 million masks, gloves and gowns for health workers including community health workers and peer educators, to roll out prevention and awareness campaigns on COVID-19 and to include a new component to the health information system to report and track COVID-19 cases.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Global Fund is working closely with global health partners to support the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapt HIV, TB and malaria programs to these challenging circumstances and maintain essential health services. Using Global Fund’s grant flexibilities, patients can now receive one to three-month drug supply for TB and HIV to reduce daily travels to health centers, temporary quarantine structures are being set up in prisons to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among inmates and food kits will be distributed to the most vulnerable populations. The country is also reviewing the possibility of leveraging existing mobile health platforms and digital tools to improve COVID-19 case detection and reporting at the community level.
Cuba is strengthening the molecular diagnosis of COVID-19 in regional laboratories; purchasing gloves, face shields, masks and gowns; and mitigating impact on HIV programs.
Democratic Republic of Congo
With the support of the Global Fund and other partners, the Democratic Republic of Congo is implementing COVID-19 prevention and awareness campaigns in the capital Kinshasa and surrounding regions. The funding is being used for radio and television broadcasts, publicity on buses, billboards and even town criers. Town criers are an important means of communication in many villages across Africa, and are being deployed to fight COVID-19 to inform communities about basic behavior for self-protection and hygiene. The Democratic Republic of Congo learned important lessons during Ebola, when rumors and false information spread, making it harder for health workers to fight the disease.
El Salvador is fighting COVID-19 and mitigating impact on TB programs by purchasing surgical masks, N95 respirator masks, alcohol gel and thermometers.
Honduras is mitigating impact on malaria programs and fighting COVID-19 by purchasing 25,000 surgical masks and 5,000 N95 respirator masks and by utilizing four ventilators and a mobile X-ray machine.
India is purchasing medical equipment and strengthening its lab capacity to fight TB and COVID-19.
Indonesia has one of the heaviest TB burdens in the world, and COVID-19 threatens to make things worse. The Global Fund has worked closely with partners and the government to test and treat millions of people across Indonesia, including testing 564,000 people in 2018 alone. Investments from the Global Fund also support the purchase of GeneXpert machines – molecular diagnostic instruments that have revolutionized TB control by providing swift turnaround of test results. With support from the Global Fund, over 800 of these machines have been installed in health facilities across the country.
Now the Global Fund is enabling countries to use GeneXpert machines in the fight against COVID-19, through the procurement of special testing cartridges that can test for the new virus. This is being done while sustaining TB testing capacity by purchasing new testing machines and running double shifts for laboratory workers. Global Fund partners are also distributing larger amounts of medication to TB patients to reduce the number of trips they must take to health facilities and conducting TB training and monitoring activities online.
Malaysia is procuring masks, gloves and other protective equipment to support outreach workers providing HIV services to key populations such as sex workers, transgender people, and men who have sex with men.
Using Global Fund funding, Mali has also deployed its force of community health workers and community actors to support case detection, screening and help populations avoid misdiagnosis. In Mopti, the upcoming net distribution campaign is underway with a tailored approach: a mix of a door-to-door distribution in urban areas and fixed distribution points in rural areas will be implemented, families will receive more mosquito nets to ensure universal coverage. Fixed points will be opened for multiple days to avoid crowds at pickup sites. Three additional regions will roll out their campaigns in June following the same modalities. The Global Fund is also exploring ways to support local production of masks and food distribution for the most vulnerable populations: sex workers, people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, children living in the streets, etc.
Moldova is fighting COVID-19 and strengthening its response to HIV and TB by purchasing 5,000 testing kits and personal protective equipment, with more on the way.
With the support of the Global Fund and partners, Mozambique is procuring personal protective equipment for health workers, strengthening laboratory surveillance and sample transportation capacity, and purchasing laboratory testing materials for COVID-19 preparedness and response across the country.
In Niger, the Global Fund and partners are supporting the country’s response to the pandemic by strengthening the laboratory capacity to diagnose COVID-19, purchasing equipment for biosecurity and expanding the GeneXpert network across the country. Nomadic communities are being screened for TB though mobile teams and laboratories. In the capital city Niamey, a new mobile TB data collection tool was piloted.
The Niger National Malaria Control Program is delivering 8 million mosquito nets to families in 44 health districts, with the support from partners including the Global Fund and Catholic Relief Services. Health workers delivered nets door to door, avoiding crowds at pick-up points to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection. Camels helped reach some of the most remote regions
The Philippines is purchasing personal protective equipment for health workers to fight TB and COVID-19, including gloves, antiseptics, face shields, masks and gowns.
Sierra Leone’s largest mosquito net distribution ever was adapted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With support from the Global Fund partnership, community health workers distributed 4.6 million insecticide-treated nets across 16 districts of the country to protect families from malaria, the deadliest disease in the country especially among pregnant women and children under 5. During the distribution, they also educated families on how to prevent and contain COVID-19, such as by washing hands and covering mouths when coughing.
Continuing Support for Young People Living with HIV
Since COVID-19 lockdown measures were introduced in Uganda, including a ban on public gatherings, the Ugandan Network of Young People Living with HIV (UNYPA) had to stop community work, such as community outreaches, dialogues and training. This poses a challenge to young people living with HIV who need access to their antiretroviral medication. In response, UNYPA is going door-to-door to deliver these essential medicines to patients. UNYPA is in contact with the government to have more vehicles to assist in this task.
“The biggest challenge that is affecting young people living with HIV faced with COVID-19 is the inability to access lifesaving medicines due to the ban that is currently going on all private and public transport means,” said Nicholas Niwagaba, Executive Director of UNYPA. “We are addressing this challenge as the network of Young People Living with HIV through delivering directly door to door these essential medicines. We need to ensure that there is access to essential services for sexual and reproductive health, HIV, TB and malaria, while we are fighting COVID-19 together.”
In support of Uganda’s National COVID Preparedness Response Plan, the Global Fund is providing about US$4.5 million to fight COVID-19, shore up critical health systems, and ensure lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs continue. As part of the initial response, the Ugandan Ministry of Health has prioritized the purchase of personal protective equipment for health workers and diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Additionally, the Global Fund is coordinating through our main civil society organization partner to strengthen differentiated service delivery models for key populations and people living with HIV in Uganda.