COVID-19 appeared on December 2019 in Wuhan, China and only until mid-March the country had not recorded any cases of contagion for the first time. That is the goal for Latin America. Thus, taking the experiences of those who have already faced the virus for a few months could potentially save many lives.
Since February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), based on international experience, has decided to have a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to guide countries in the mitigation of public health problems. This document was updated on April 14 and will be updated as global situation changes.
Here are some of the strategies proposed by WHO.
Speed, scale and equity: The guiding principles that should lead the countries’ public health strategy.
- Speed to respond to the explosive nature of the virus
- Scale because the virus can only be controlled collectively
- Equity because everyone is at risk
Individuals, communities, governments, and private companies: Everyone has a role to stop COVID-19
- Individuals must protect themselves with the measures recommended in the following link
- Communities must be empowered to ensure that aid and services to prevent the virus, are adapted to their local contexts
- Governments must expand the public health system and ensure that preventive measures are met
- Private companies must ensure the continuity of essential services such as food or medical supplies.
Coordination and planning: The key to respond effectively when the virus arrives
– Coordinate rapid and appropriate response mechanisms at the sub-national level with each of the Ministries
– Create operational plans that analyze risks and evaluate the country’s capacity to respond to an emergency
Engaging and mobilizing communities: An effective way to limit exposure.
– Local authorities must regularly and proactively communicate public health and scientific messages
– Community must adapt the recommendations to their local contexts
Find, test, isolate and care for: ways to control COVID-19 transmission.
– Population needs to self-monitor and train to find possible cases quickly
– When there is a possible case, tests must be performed immediately
– Confirmed cases must be effectively isolated, if possible, in a medical facility to avoid further infections
– Track people who had contact with a person infected
Provide clinical care and health services: to reduce mortality.
– Create contingency plans, such as the entire reconfiguration of the health sector
– Keep population’s trust in the healthcare system. Essential healthcare services should not be suspended
Suppress community transmission: the sooner action is taken, the better.
– Cancel massive events, nonessential workplaces, educational establishments, and reduce public transportation
– Limit national and international travel
– Provide adequate protection to healthcare personnel
– In vulnerable communities, access to food and mental health must be ensured
Quarantine and social distancing: double-edged weapons.
– Introducing measures such as mandatory quarantines reduce transmission, but have a negative impact on society by stopping the economy, which mostly affects people in poverty and migrants
– Social distancing must be done with caution and planning so as not to suffer a second amplified wave of infections
Transition to a state of low transmission: so that the pandemic is manageable by the health system.
– 14-day quarantine for those who have had contact with an infected person
– Plan preventive measures in the workplace
– Engage communities to understand that low transmission requires big changes
The world is facing an unprecedented threat that will become an opportunity for stronger healthcare systems, as well as stronger global collaboration. Lessons must be learned from this pandemic so that the responses of individuals and governments have a positive legacy that allows the world to be a safer place.
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