This is the time to improve primary healthcare worldwide. The COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted the dangers and caused havoc in the lives of many families. While millions of people have lost their lives, a generation of students has faced a learning crisis. It has been a stark reminder about the importance of building resilient healthcare systems worldwide. We can prevent future pandemics by ensuring that we have better primary healthcare. These are just a few of the areas you should be focusing on.
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1. Healthcare workers: Recruit, train, and prioritize
Healthcare workers are, it goes without saying that they are the core of any strong healthcare system. Frontline workers (which includes community health workers) have risen to the occasion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts have been tremendous, whether it was caring for the sick or making sure vaccines reach the most vulnerable people, reporting cases, or maintaining routine healthcare services,
Jennifer Boateng is a pharmacist at Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Ghana. She epitomizes all the hard work of many healthcare workers. “I live with my wife, my three children, and my 80-year-old mother. She recalls that she was still nursing when she started working at the COVID-19 intensive medical unit. “I was terrified of getting the virus and putting my family in danger. My children had to stop hugging me.
Jennifer worked tirelessly to ensure that COVID-19 sufferers received the medications they needed during the pandemic. Her experience in the ICU has had a profound effect on her.
“Working here has exposed my to the most deaths that I have ever seen in my career. It’s been a very haunting journey.” It takes a lot of mental preparation and effort to find the strength to get up each morning to go to work.
Jennifer’s effects on Jennifer and other healthcare workers have been immense. Healthcare workers need to be given more priority in order to prevent future pandemics. This means giving them the training they need, making sure that they are first in line to receive vaccines, as well as financially and emotionally supporting their needs. This includes helping healthcare workers build their confidence, understanding their concerns and working with them on addressing those issues. This support is necessary not only to ensure that healthcare workers can do their jobs properly but also to make sure that the profession attracts and retains talented and dedicated individuals.
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2. Effective surveillance and response systems should be established
Clusters of cases emerged around the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been new, sometimes more dangerous variants of the virus that circulate regularly and they spread rapidly. It’s essential to have reliable testing and reporting mechanisms to monitor any virus that is constantly changing and moving. This allows for rapid notification to a central health authority if there is an outbreak or a new variant. Effective measures can be taken to reduce virus transmission by quickly raising the alarm. This type of surveillance works best when done at the community level.
As many low- and medium-income countries have limited access and resources for testing, it is necessary to make larger investments in order to improve the quality of testing. Without this, we will not be able to detect and control future outbreaks. This means that schools and businesses may be subject to additional lockdowns. We all know the economic and social consequences of such closures.
3. Community health can help build confidence in the health services you use
Trust is essential when it comes to providing the vaccines that people need to thrive and stay healthy. Trust is key in building confidence in healthcare workers, national health agencies, and health institutions. This is because that’s where the most important information comes from. We can prevent future pandemics by building trust and ensuring that the guidance provided by these sources is reliable and respected.
It is important to build trust and communicate clearly with the public about the health services they have access to. It is important for people to be informed about vaccines, including information such as where they can be obtained and when the workers will administer them. This is especially important in rural areas, where there are often temporary clinics that offer these services.
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South Africa’s “Zwakala” vaccine campaign is a great example of trust and effective messaging. Friends often use the phrase “Zwakala”, which in Zulu is “come on over,” as an invitation. This initiative has enabled community healthcare workers to mobilize in areas of the country with a low initial COVID-19 vaccine rate. They communicated with their community through various media, including radio, leaflet distribution, and face-to-face meetings. Learn more about this campaign and the importance of trust building.
4. Include COVID-19 vaccines in routine immunization packages
To protect communities against COVID-19, vaccines must be readily available at the community level. COVID-19 vaccines must be easily available as part routine immunization programs. This means that they are offered to individuals as part of a routine of vaccines throughout their lives. To be able serve adults and protect childhood immunization, this requires strengthening routine immunization as well as primary healthcare services.
5. Boost logistics and supply
The pandemic was a huge logistical and supply problem. It was difficult to develop, deliver and administer COVID-19 vaccines. But vaccines are more than just vaccines. Consider all the supplies you will need. Protective gear such as gloves and masks have been vital to ensure the safety of healthcare workers. The cold chain storage and supply of syringes is also necessary to ensure that vaccines don’t go unnoticed.
The Philippines is an example of how crucial cold chain storage is in reaching remote communities with vaccines. There are hundreds of remote islands and areas that are more vulnerable to natural disasters in the country. This includes Kabugao, a municipality nestled in the mountains north of Manila. Extreme flooding is common, and power can often go out. This has created a problem: how to ensure vaccines don’t get wasted when there is no electricity? WE and Japan have partnered to supply Kabugao with dozens of solar-powered refrigerators to ensure that vaccines can last even when electricity goes out.
Investing in this type of infrastructure will ensure that communities have the vaccines they require and prevent future outbreaks.
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This is an exceptional moment in which we have the opportunity to not only end the pandemic but also prevent future ones. COVID-19’s legacy should not be one of chaos and disparity but rather a moment of great change. This change will require a constant commitment to improving primary healthcare.
We can create stronger health systems that can withstand any pandemic or epidemic by committing to improving primary healthcare at the community and national levels.