{Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Two women wash their hands outside Nathenje Health Center.Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Story and photos by Rejoice Phiri, Communications Manager, ONSE Health ActivityMalawi’s media is awash with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed daily life in the country, as well as worldwide.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Mobile teams broadcast information to community members regarding COVID-19 transmission, self-quarantine, and other preventive measures.Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

On April 2, 2020, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika confirmed the country's first cases of COVID-19.

{Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda. where she now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence. Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot}Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda. where she now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence. Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot

For some groups of particularly vulnerable people - the elderly, disabled, those suffering from physical and mental ill-health or those at risk of violence and abuse - the restrictive measures have a significant and negative effect. These people’s health and wellbeing, in all senses, are being corroded. In some cases, people are in extremely threatening and deadly situations.

So who is making these decisions on isolation and lockdowns? How do their judgments take into consideration the wider impact on the population and the secondary effects of these restrictions, especially on vulnerable people? We, a group of colleagues working on universal health coverage, decided to do a rapid analysis of 24 national COVID-19 Taskforces to identify their composition and investigate their decision-making processes. What we found out was shocking.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1 in 10 pharmaceutical products sold globally is falsified or substandard, with deadly effects and the situation is known to be far worse in certain regions of the world; in 2013 alone, falsified malaria medicines killed more than 120,000 children in Africa.  Meanwhile, WHO surveys in 2018 estimated that only about one-third of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) had the capacity to effectively regulate medical products in their hospitals, pharmacies, and communities, with only one of those NRAs being in Africa.The WHO

{The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippines in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the availability of quality health commodities in communities. Photo credit: MTaPS staff}The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippines in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring the availability of quality health commodities in communities. Photo credit: MTaPS staff

Andre Zagorski of the MSH-led, USAID-funded MTaPS Program talks about the program's urgent work to help contain the virus in more than a dozen countries.

{Andre Zagorski} Andre ZagorskiHow did you and MTaPS rally to support USAID’s call for a rapid response to COVID-19 in a dozen countries? What were the challenges? 

MTaPS is the USAID Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) go-to program for infection prevention and control (IPC), and we have been implementing activities to strengthen health systems for stronger IPC programs in 10 countries since the MTaPS award in 2018. We have offices and small but strong professional teams in these countries and have established productive working relations with national stakeholders and partners.

Story by Samy Rakotoniaina and Misa Rahantason

Malaria is one of the leading causes of mortality among children under five in Madagascar. Atsimo Andrefana is one of Madagascar’s regions most severely impacted by endemic malaria. More than half of the population in this region lives more than five kilometers from the nearest health facility, putting Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) on the front lines in the fight against malaria.

Retsilake is one of the 6,000 high-performing CHVs supported by the USAID-funded Accessible Continuum of Care and Essential Services Sustained (ACCESS) project. ACCESS is implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in partnership with a consortium of international and local organizations, and alongside Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health. The project is partly funded by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).

Retsilake diagnosed and treated nearly 2,000 children from his village and the surrounding area during a particularly severe malaria outbreak in 2015. He understands the impacts of malaria on children's health and this keeps him motivated to serve his community.

Guatemala, like many parts of the world, is on lockdown, with curfews put in place by the Guatemalan government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Gatherings of any size are prohibited and these restrictions have affected MSH’s Strengthening Antenatal Care Project in the department of Quetzaltenango, which brings together pregnant Mayan women for group antenatal care (ANC) sessions.As of April 15, 2020, Guatemala has recorded 196 cases of COVID-19, including 5 deaths and 19 recovered patients.

The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Philippines in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The concerted effort is a partnership of USAID with the Philippines Department of Health (DoH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF.  MTaPS is assisting in two technical areas critical to managing and controlling the pandemic: infection prevention and control (IPC) and supply chain management of essential emergency commodities.

Photo credit: Amany AyubPhoto credit: Amany Ayub

The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to manage and contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

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