Swiss TPH Supports COVID-19 Efforts through Swiss Government Funding

Information materials, hygienic-protective items, and essential food packages ar
Information materials, hygienic-protective items, and essential food packages are handed over to the representatives of Emergency Municipal Headquarters in Kosovo to support the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: AQH Project, Swiss TPH)

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is supporting the re-allocation of funds within existing projects that are implemented by Swiss TPH in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe to assist in the public health response to the COVID-19 crisis. Activities range from the creation of a national call centre, procurement, distribution and training on the use of personal protective equipment, to setting up a diagnostics laboratory, training of PHC workers on remote consultations and communications work to dispel fake news. Local Public Authorities and the sector are engaged to ensure assistance for the most vulnerable, and numerous interventions were adapted to the requirements of physical distancing.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects people’s health and well-being on a global scale and is laying bare deep inequalities in terms of gender, vulnerability and disability, especially in lowand middle-income countries that often lack well-functioning protection schemes and face many health systems challenges. Albeit, we are seeing a high level of leadership in several countries, the leveraging of experiences gained in other infectious disease outbreaks, major commitment from health and workers, and unprecedented inter-agency collaboration.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has shown great agility to facilitate the re-allocation of funds within existing projects to assist partner countries in the fight against COVID-19 in Tanzania, Moldova, Kosovo, Albania, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Ethiopia and Chad. Swiss TPH is responsible for the implementation of projects in these countries.

"It is excellent to see Switzerland actively engaging in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Kaspar Wyss, Head of the Swiss Centre for International Health and Deputy Director at Swiss TPH. "We are grateful for this opportunity to implement local and national initiatives ranging from a national call centre, diagnostics, communications and procurements to support COVID-19 relief efforts around the globe."

Support to COVID-19 in Tanzania

Tanzania coordinates its COVID-19 preparedness and response plan through a multi-sectoral national task force. SDC supports these efforts through the Health and Systems Strengthening (HPSS) project with technical assistance in building up and operating a national call centre to provide COVID-19 information to the population.

Support to COVID-19 in Moldova

The Healthy Life Project in Moldova has provided personal protective equipment to health workers, introduced evidence-based guidance in phone consultations, and redesigned trainings, and a chronic disease self-management programme to operate remotely. In addition, the project supports the National Agency for Public Health to ensure functionality of laboratory diagnostics, and provides protective equipment to community workers as they work to maintain visits to the sick and elderly in remote areas.

Support to COVID-19 in Kosovo

In Kosovo, appropriate behavioural change communication targeting the general population, vulnerable groups, patients with NCDs, minority groups and professional front line workers is essential. The ble Quality Healthcare (AQH) project is working closely with the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health in Kosovo to address these communication needs, as well as proactively countering false and misleading information.

Support to COVID-19 in Albania

Aiming to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the health authorities’ guidelines, the family medicine teams within the Health for All Project in Albania continue to provide s, mainly remotely, to chronic patients as well as suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. A weekly is distributed with relevant information and facts about COVID-19. The project, with support from the Swiss Embassy and the Ministry of Health and Protection, has also provided funding to the United Nations Development Programme to procure 30 ventilators.

Support to COVID-19 in Tajikistan

The Enhancing Primary Healthcare s Project in Tajikistan supports the local procurement of personal protective equipment to be distributed to the districts. The international procurement of protective equipment is in progress. Early in the response, support was provided to training of health workers, while the project is also cooperating with the Republican Healthy Lifestyle Centre to engage community health teams in the dissemination of accurate messaging about COVID-19.

Support to COVID-19 in Ukraine

The Swiss-Ukrainian Medical Education Development Project in collaboration with the Academy of Family Medicine of Ukraine and other partners has launched an online course entitled "Medical Assistance during the Pandemic". The course will cover topics such as the basics of infection control in outpatient practice, newborn support during the COVID-19 crisis, the role of family doctors and nurses and more.

Support to COVID-19 in Ethiopia

The JOHI laboratory at the Jigjiga University, which was set up with expertise from Swiss TPH, has become the first COVID-19 diagnostic lab in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, contributing to COVID-19 pandemic control in Ethiopia. In addition, the project has provided the means for the secondment of an epidemiologist to the World Health Organization country office in Ethiopia to support with the national response.

Support to COVID-19 in Chad

The Government of Chad, with the support of its partners, has adopted a national COVID-19 contingency plan to ensure appropriate control measures. The Swiss government has agreed to support with the mobilisation of funds from the project PADS (Support Project for the Health Districts in Chad) to assist with measures such as training health workers, health and sanitation as well as the dissemination of communication tools such as factsheets and leaflets and documents about procedures and data collection.