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COVID-19: How VAW Global Health Alliances is preparing & responding

Updated: 4 June, 2021

As part of VAW Global Health Alliances’ response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we are working hard to ensure that your safety and the safety of our in-country staff and community members remains our top priority. 

Both our global and local leadership teams have been monitoring developments surrounding the outbreak on a regular basis. We have been utilizing information, reports and guidance prepared and issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Department of State and the local Ministries of Health across all countries we have a presence in. 

In compliance with heightened travel restrictions and border closures worldwide, VAW Global has postponed all trips for interns until February 1st, 2021. In the United States, the federal government and many local and state governments have begun to ease restrictions and freedom of movement is beginning to resume; many countries around the world are following similar steps of slowly easing restrictions and opening up businesses again. Most countries have a multi-phase plan for opening up and resuming activities as normal. 

VAW Global has taken several precautionary measures to support the health and safety of all interns, staff, and community members including the following: 

  1. Educating all interns and staff on safe hygiene practices as recommended by the CDC and WHO; 
  2. Ensuring extra supplies of soap and other hand washing products to maintain proper hygiene at all program sites; 
  3. Increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing all housing and office facilities and transportation vehicles at all outreach sites; 
  4. Working closely with airlines for more flexible airfare contracts; 
  5. Assisting team transfers for interns who cannot travel with their original team;
  6. Adjusting guidelines to help reschedule pre-planned team trips; 
  7. Increasing flexibility for the deposit deadlines;
  8. Establishing additional risk management policies and emergency protocols; 
  9. Traveling interns are required to submit a Negative COVID-19 per the requirements of customs at the host country. Please check the consular website prior to travel to ensure you will have the appropriate testing and documentation upon arrival. 
  10. To promote the health and safety of everyone, face coverings are required for VAW Global Staff (SOC & Outreach Assistant), Medical Staff (Doctor, Dentist, Vets, Nurses, Pharmacist), Interns, Partners (Community Partners, University Partners, Transportation Partners, Food Partners, etc) & Patients in all indoor public areas. 

As always, during our operations and during Mobile Clinics, the VAW Global Biosafety, Infection prevention & Waste Management Protocol will lead our operations in our host communities. 

The protocol defines several guidelines from WHO and CDC related to: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) [1] for each Outreach type and Clinic Station, Safe Work Practices and Hand Hygiene, Respiratory Hygiene & Cough Etiquette, Disinfection of Surfaces & Equipment, Waste Disposal Management, as well as Mobile Clinic Layout. 

Additionally, the following will be in place: 

  1. Taking the temperature of every patient before they enter clinic spaces; 
  2. Requiring the use of face coverings for everyone at clinic, including interns, healthcare staff, other staff and community members (medical grade masks will be issued to those with respiratory symptoms and they will be separated into a different section at clinic); the use of disposable gowns or overalls is also required. Those should be removed before going into transportation or entering any other environment different than the Clinic. 
  3. Limiting the number of patients allowed inside clinic facilities at one time; 
  4. Increasing access to hand washing facilities, including soap and water or hand sanitizer, for all interns, staff and patients at clinics; 
  5. Increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing during clinics. 
  6. During your stay with the Host Families, everyone should wear masks in common areas and wash hands regularly. When returning from Clinic, interns will be extra careful by taking off their shoes outside the house; and showering and changing clothes when entering the house. Families will be taking care of you, please take care of them. 

The planned response for any potential intern´s case: 

  1. Assessing the intern´s medical status and determine the severity of the symptoms, while separating them from the team immediately to an individual bedroom and bathroom in the family house (if there is space available) or taking them to another host family individual bedroom or a hostel room in town. 
  2. If the intern presents a severe health status, they will be taken to a local Hospital or Clinic in the host city, so they can be taken care of by a healthcare specialist [2]. It is important to understand that airlines will not allow a COVID patient to travel while positive, which necessitates that a sick intern will be treated in the host country, and since travel insurances do not cover pandemic illnesses – the costs of treatment for COVID-19 in the host country will be paid out of pocket, by the intern. 

VAW Global will continue to monitor the reports and recommendations issued by the CDC, WHO, U.S. Department of State, and local Ministries of Health and will be sure to update all of you with any new information. 

What You Can Do 

  • Keep up to date with current guidelines and recommendations by only trusted resources. We suggest relying on the following sources:
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands frequently using soap and water and/or hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol); avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects;
  • Practice physical distancing (we still encourage maintaining healthy social relationships!) and avoid going outside unless absolutely necessary (eg, purchasing food, medical appointments, etc) for at least the next two weeks;
  • Maintain social relationships: set up a video call coffee hour with friends, move your bookclub online or “meet up” with a friend or family member virtually to do some exercise!
  • Monitor your local news station to ensure you are following all local mandates to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • If needed, check out our list of free online resources here available to help keep you occupied while in quarantine.

We understand the ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19 and the disruption this has caused on a global level. Please remember we are available to support you however we can. Your passion, enthusiasm and support are critical to our ongoing sustainable partnerships with our communities and leaders around the world. In the event you have an upcoming trip planned, your Team Development Coordinator will work with you to provide all available options to stay involved. 

Now, more than ever, we must band together to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to healthcare. We look forward to working with you at one of our sites soon! 

 

Note(s):

[1] PPE should be brought from the US from each intern.

[2] Interns should be aware that payments derived from their condition must be paid at their own expense.


Check “VAW Global’s Covid-19 assumption of the risk, release and liability waiver” HERE.