As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the lives of millions of people worldwide, countries currently facing a low number of cases are taking strict measures to prevent an outbreak.
In Zimbabwe, the focus has been on strengthening surveillance, laboratory, and infection prevention and control (IPC) activities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. As of May 27, the nation has recorded 56 confirmed cases and four deaths, one of the lowest in the sub-Saharan African region and worldwide.
To support the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in strengthening contact tracing and COVID-19 surveillance activities, ICAP’s existing strategic information (SI) project—funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—has received an additional $1.4 million in funds.
These resources are being used to incorporate electronic health record (EHR) systems at all main ports of entry to track and trace suspected COVID-19 cases among travelers. Call center systems have been set up where members of the public can alert health care workers of possible COVID-19 cases in the community, leading to a quicker response time.
So far, ICAP has distributed personal protective equipment to essential workers and is supporting contact tracing activities by providing 16 drivers and vehicles from the existing Strategic Information (SI) and Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) projects.
To collect COVID-19 related information at the household and community level, ICAP will support the implementation of a national serological survey and a knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey led by MoHCC.
“ICAP in Zimbabwe is well-positioned as the lead strategic information partner for the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” said Godfrey Musuka, ICAP’s country director in Zimbabwe. “The strong trust we have earned has enabled us to be a major player in the fight against COVID-19.”
With financial support from businessman Dr. Bing Zhao, ICAP has also built on its experience using media sensitization for public health to produce a COVID-19 awareness song, “Apart/Together – We Stand Strong Against COVID,” with renowned Zimbabwean musicians Albert Nyathi and Dereck Mpofu. The song’s inspiring tune carries informational messages to encourage communities to follow public health guidelines and combat the pandemic.
As ICAP continues to lead in this rapidly evolving and time-sensitive work, future plans include strengthening COVID-19 databases; improving data quality to support interventions; coordinating trainings for rapid response surveillance teams; and expanding COVID-19 mortality surveillance to include information from community leaders and funeral homes.
A global health leader since 2003, ICAP was founded at Columbia University with one overarching goal: to improve the health of families and communities. Together with its partners—ministries of health, large multilaterals, health care providers, and patients—ICAP strives for a world where health is available to all. To date, ICAP has addressed major public health challenges and the needs of local health systems through 6,000 sites across more than 30 countries.