November 26 2020

The Pacific region has been spared from the mass outbreaks of COVID-19 that have taken place throughout the world over the last year. But while Pacific nations can be rightly proud of their quick actions to control the disease,  they are not relaxing monitoring efforts and are ensuring that their health systems are prepared.

The small island nation of Nauru is one of the few places with no COVID cases recorded. Nevertheless, Nauru is staying alert and working closely with partners to invest in training and preparation health programs

One of the key partners is Pacific Community’s (SPC) Public Health Division (PHD) which is working through the WHO-led Pacific COVID-19 Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT) to provide technical support to Pacific countries. SPC has been leading the technical work of the infection, prevention and control (IPC) advisory cell of the JIMT through the provision of virtual trainings and IPC related guidelines and recommendations.

An IPC workshop in Nauru on the use of the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is the most recent example of proactive measures being taken.

To support Nauru Healthcare worker safety in PPE use, a PPE competency checklist was developed by SPC with partners to ensure healthcare workers were competent in safely putting on and removing PPE.

The Nauru Ministry of Health and Medical Services recently facilitated a workshop focused on a COVID-19 ‘capture and contain’ strategy using the PPE competency checklist. This workshop was aimed at upskilling front line workers on vital aspects of COVID-19, including transmission & prevention, personal and community safety and an update of the National regulations.

Elizabeth Giouba, IPC officer for COVID-19 response in Nauru said, “the workshop also focused on ensuring that everyone working within the capture and contain field were armed with the information required to be ensure vigilance with following infection control processes and were confident in using PPE safely”.

A total of 289 participants attended this meeting which comprised of representatives from Nauru airlines, civil aviation, custom, immigration, quarantine and police officers, public health workers and the national emergency department amongst others.

An IPC competency checklist that was developed by SPC to guide the assessment process of IPC is a simple yet effective tool to ensure correct procedures are followed and allowed the assessor to sign off on the form.

“It was such a great opportunity to gather multi disciplines together and engage them in discussions and problem-solving activities. We emphasized that we share a commonality in combating COVID19 together and that working together will lead to success in ensuring that the virus be contained and prevented in Nauru.” Elizabeth added.

SPC continues to implement & support these activities in the region with financial support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union (EU) and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).