COVID-19 has changed the world in the last few months and it has changed working conditions in the UK and in our partners countries in Africa and Asia as well.
Much of the work carried out across our network of global partners relies on face to face workshops, training, and community work. Invariably, COVID makes this difficult to carry out and plans had to be adapted in the last months. All of our partner organisations have also been busy diverting effort to support the local health care system and communities with corona virus and its many implications.
However, the Centre and its partners remain committed to completing our full programme of burn prevention and burn care training and activities, even though some changes have to be made to ensure delivery will be possible and safe for all involved.
Much of the work carried out in Nepal is community-led, but in recent months corona virus restrictions, as well as heavy rainfall and flooding, have caused community-based work to be paused. During this time Sagun has focused on completing handbooks on first aid and burn prevention for local health care workers and local communities. They have also worked on more dissemination material, such as a burn prevention calendar which the Centre tweeted back in June:
What do you look at every day? Amongst other things, a calendar! what a great way to make #burnprevention messages a daily encounter for those at risk in LMICs.— Centre for Global Burns (@cgbipr) June 9, 2020
Made for the #NepaliNewYear (starting April 14th 2020)https://t.co/C86ItgGRwK#NIHRGlobalHealth #Sagun #Nepal
In addition, Sagun has published their fourth issue of a burn magazine which is used to inform schools, local authorities, and community centres on relevant burn care and prevention messages.
Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) and local health posts are still being supported through telephone calls. The corona virus crisis has highlighted yet again the value of FCHVs in communities, and Sagun will continue to work with FCHVs as a way to raise community awareness on burn prevention, albeit remotely for the near future.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is our partner working in the conflict zones of Gaza and West Bank in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). After an initial dip in COVID-19 cases, unfortunately numbers are now rising again, making all health care training and community work impossible. Burn prevention posters and brochures have been finalised and are ready for distribution when the lockdown eases. In addition, basic burn care training in West Bank may be able to go ahead in the near future, depending on Ministry of Health advice.
To adapt to the current situation, MAP have also added to their plans for community awareness work and developed a brilliant social media campaign with regional media stations. As part of this social media campaign to raise burn prevention awareness, a puppet show was created, recorded and disseminated.
In addition to COVID-19 disruptions and restrictions, political unrest has also flared up in Ethiopia in the last weeks. The unsafe situation and lack of reliable internet connection have made it even more crucial for our partners AMREF to postpone any travel and community work until it is safe again to do so.
In light of the pandemic, AMREF has explored alternative opportunities to continue community-led prevention activities and to deliver training. COVID health information messages need to be delivered door to door to many households by health extensions workers. AMREF is working closely with the Ministry of Health to combine such visits with the opportunity to deliver burn care and prevention education to the community.
Additionally, AMREF is still planning to deliver face to face Basic Burn Care training in Ethiopia using smaller groups and appropriate safety measures and are exploring the possibility of training over video calls if travel would not be possible.
The unforeseen pandemic, as well as other challenges such as political unrest or natural disasters, are difficult barriers to training and community work in low and middle income countries. In the UK we have all moved to working at home and online, but as much of the work overseas is carried out either in remote areas or in areas with poor infrastructure, delivery through online platforms is an issue in itself. However; our partners have responded with alternative and innovative ways to ensure delivery of activities will be safe. We are, together with our partners, looking forward to a busy autumn and winter when we hope restrictions will be eased, and all those delayed plans can finally go ahead.