The growing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly impacting countries in Africa. In Tunisia, our project team working on the “Technical Assistance to the Health Sector Support Programme (Essaha Aziza)” funded by the European Union and implemented by the consortium EPOS, management4health (M4H) and FICOM Conseil, is actively supporting the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and health authorities in governorates and districts to develop COVID-19 response measures.
Activities carried out in the project over the past year have aimed at improving the performance of the first-line health services in terms of quality, accessibility, decentralization and governance, and have created a strong working relationship amongst all partners. Additionally, the project team of four medical doctors and public health experts as well as two communications experts, has worked along-side local health officials and healthcare workers in 13 governorates, strengthening national and regional health services management and health services provision, and identifying and developing initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness of existing healthcare services.
This strong partnership with MoPH officials and deep understanding of national and local healthcare services has established the foundation for our project team to serve as trusted resources to support the development of rapid and effective COVID-19 emergency measures.
To date, project technical assistance activities adapted to address the COVID-19 pandemic include:
• A project key expert serving as an advisor on the Government COVID-19 national task force which meets daily to determine pandemic response recommendations and actions
• Adapting support to first line of healthcare workers preparing additional trainings that address hand washing and laundry in the hospitals, hand washing at community level, etc. and other disease control measures
• Development of a national radio campaign promoting hygiene and social distancing practices to limit the spread of COVID-19. This is currently running nationwide.
“The work of our project team while implementing this project over the past several years has created an environment of trust and respect, laying a solid foundation for everyone to come together to meet the challenges ahead. Work already undertaken to strengthen national and local health services will be important in fighting the virus spread in Tunisia, but it won’t be enough,” according to Project Manager Raphael Broniatowski, EPOS Consultant and Senior Project Manager.
“In light of the devastating effects the virus has on even robust health systems elsewhere outside of Africa, all healthcare institutions, services and workers in Tunisia will need to come together with broader local, national and international resources to develop and implement tools and processes to meet the extreme challenges that lie ahead,” added Broniatowski.
As the virus spread and number of patients confirmed with COVID-19 continue to increase, the project team, in conjunction with the project donor and MoPH officials, is actively working to adapt activities and additional measures that effectively respond to immediate needs. We will share these with you as they develop.