COVID-19: Responding to the Pandemic
Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of countries, communities, and health systems. A new and highly contagious virus has overwhelmed national and local health systems and laid bare glaring inequities—between and within countries—in access to lifesaving health services. It has put at risk years of commitment and progress in the battle against infectious diseases such as TB, malaria, pneumonia, and HIV, and created grave risks for millions of people living with chronic conditions. And it has revealed dangerous gaps in critical health system functions, from preventing infections in health facilities to ensuring reliable supply chains for PPE and vaccines, providing a stark reminder of the need to invest in robust health systems.
For half a century, MSH has worked side-by-side with country and community-level partners to develop the sustainable systems and skills they need to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threats that imperil people’s lives and well-being. In the face of COVID-19, we have deployed MSH’s global footprint, deep understanding of global best practices, strong country and local relationships, and on-the-ground implementation experience to help each of the 27 countries where we currently work to effectively confront the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges.
What we are doing
MSH is helping country health systems respond to COVID-19, maintain essential health care services, and prevent and prepare for future pandemics by:
- Strengthening leadership and management for better planning, risk communication, and execution of preparedness, response, and recovery
- Accelerating widespread, equitable access to and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations
- Fortifying emergency supply chains to ensure access to medicines, equipment, and supplies where and when they are needed
- Bolstering health workforce capacity and strengthening infection prevention and control to prevent spread and protect health workers, patients, and communities
- Engaging the private sector, civil society, and communities in a whole-of-society response that strengthens COVID-19 surveillance and control; enables timely, accurate risk communication that reaches at-risk communities; and expands access to and use of essential health services and medicines
Our Response Underway
The USAID Medicines, Technologies and Pharmaceutical Services Program, led by MSH, is on the frontlines, supporting partners in 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East with sustainable interventions to accelerate wide and equitable delivery of, access to, and use of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations; implement end-to-end infection prevention and control (IPC) in health facilities; ensure reliable supplies of medicines, masks, and hygiene products through improved commodity management and regulation; and improve management of healthcare waste. The MTaPS COVID-19 Resource Hub provides countries with a platform for accessing up-to-date information and tools, including lessons learned from on-the-ground experience, multilingual e-Learning courses, and standard operating procedures on a range of relevant topics. READ MORE
In Malawi, the MSH-led Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity—USAID’s flagship program for health service delivery—has provided comprehensive support for the government’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and its operational field guide for COVID-19 vaccination, and worked with district health teams and community and faith leaders to develop and implement rapid response plans, vaccination training and supervision, and risk communication and vaccine sensitization activities. More than 1,200 ONSE-supported integrated family health and family planning outreach clinics have reached a quarter-million Malawians with essential health services during the crisis, and higher-level health facilities have limited spread of COVID-19 through strengthened disease surveillance and infection prevention protocols. READ MORE
A new MSH toolkit helps local leaders sustain health services even when surges in health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to overwhelm their health systems. Sustaining Essential Health Care during COVID-19: A Toolkit for Local Leaders to Adapt Health Services in Low-Resource Settings supports a robust local response that efficiently responds to new needs presented by the pandemic while continuing to provide essential non-COVID-19 services. Focusing on underlying concepts rather than specific planning guidance, the toolkit equips leaders with practical, easy-to-use worksheets to help them make contextually appropriate decisions that save lives and reduce suffering in a confusing and rapidly evolving situation. READ MORE
Advocating for global health security
MSH works on its own and in collaboration with global non-profits, academic organizations, and the private sector to educate policymakers on the importance of funding global health security, and COVID-19 response in particular. We frequently communicate to the media about COVID-19 and the importance of health systems strengthening to prevent and contain infectious diseases. Outlets for recent contributions and appearances include The Guardian, The Washington Post, Forbes, BBC Radio and World News Live, The Hill, Scientific American, The Irish Times, France 24, The Wall Street Journal, DEVEX, Global Health NOW, Voice of America, Next Billion, STAT, Think Global Health, Truthout, Knowable Magazine, Daily Monitor, and Canada’s “Jerry Agar Show.” LEARN MORE