COVID-19 health action reaches 300,000 Tanzanians

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PPE is keeping health care volunteers safe.
PPE is keeping health care volunteers safe.
Tippy tap handwashing stations are hands-free to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Tippy tap handwashing stations are hands-free to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Healthcare workers were trained to protect themselves and their communities.
Healthcare workers were trained to protect themselves and their communities.

More than 300,000 rural Tanzanians have been helped to prepare for COVID-19 by Transaid’s MAM@Scale programme, whilst continuing malaria prevention work, thanks to the support of the FIA Foundation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.

Originally established using community health volunteers and bicycle ambulances to support patients with suspected severe malaria, the programme is now integrating COVID-19 messaging and interventions across the network. The MAM@Scale consortium – made up of Development Data, Disacare, DAI Global Health, and Transaid – has been delivering evidenced-based maternal, newborn and child health programming in Zambia for over a decade.

Over 1,100 Community Health Volunteers (CHV) have now received COVID-19 training and PPE between April and July. Food was distributed to 180 community foodbanks, benefitting more than 550 children, some of whom had suffered from severe malaria and other childhood illnesses, as well many in need of support following the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 2,500 face masks, 256 ‘tippy tap’ low-contact hand-washing points, and 1,357 tablets of soap have been distributed across the communities. Between April to July 2020 12,687 door-to-door visits were carried out by CHVs in five intervention districts, 282% of the original target.

A comprehensive communication outreach programme about COVID-19 health measures is ongoing, with a combination of broadcasted and printed public health announcements to reach as many people as possible across 335 communities. More than 8,000 posters have been printed in a mix of English and local languages while there have been 48 radio broadcast sessions. CHVs are busy conducting door to door visits in integration with malaria routine activities.

“I have learnt a lot - I now have a bucket of water and soap at the entrance of my house and we no longer shake hands. My children too have changed,” said Ben, one the Lumpampa community members who received healthcare outreach from MAM@Scale.

Transaid is also working with Zambia's National Public Health Institute, has made substantial inputs to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ‘Community Engagement and COVID-19 Movement Restrictions: Tips for Engaging People in Low-Resource Settings Remotely and In-Person’ guide.

“The government did not think of us being in a remote area that we needed intensive sensitisation on COVID-19,” said Dr Kamanzi, District Health Director for the Chama region. “Most of our people here were in ignorance about COVID-19. The coming of MAM@Scale to support on COVID-19 has really been helpful and as a district we have seen the information reaching the communities on time and people are already disseminating.”