East Kwaio communities prepare for COVID-19

Friday, May 15, 2020
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by Tommy Esau, Baru Conservation Alliance

World Health Organization (WHO), health authorities and other stakeholders around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Solomon Islands is among the few countries in the world who have not recorded any positive cases of COVID-19, community engagement readiness and initial response for this novel Coronavirus is crucial at this time.

COVID-19 prevention activities are being delivered by Mr Tommy Esau, Baru Conservation Alliance and Mr Gideon Fatalaea, a registered nurse from Atoifi Hospital. Youth and community leaders who are committed are also volunteering their time and service. Community Awareness measures are being implemented in both the Atoifi Catchment Area and Eastern Region Zones 1 – 4.

The Baru Conservation Alliance, a registered Non-Government Organisation in Solomon Islands, is also delivering awareness to people in the mountains. Led by Chief Esau Kekeubata and Maasafi Alabai, Baru Conservation Alliance has provided COVID-19 awareness to six communities on the coast, along with five hamlets and small villages in the mountains.

Challenges that we faced were time, resources and logistics, especially fuel for generators and the outboard motor to travel between coastal communities in East Kwaio. These challenges did not stop the team! Baru Conservation Alliance members volunteered their time and used the Atoifi Health Research Group boat for transport. We also gave community awareness talks during a scheduled trip to remote mountain villages where we are working on a sanitation program.

The Baru Conservation Alliance response team is also working closely with each community to set up their health committees and response team to identify isolation sites, quarantine sites, and develop effective action plans and communication systems. Communities in East Malaita are working to be prepared for this novel coronavirus. This work is an excellent foundation for us to respond to other infectious diseases that also affect communities in East Kwaio like malaria and TB.

Photo: (L-R): Community leaders meet with Atoifi Hospital staff at a COVID-19 planning Day at Atoifi Hospital; Nurse Gideon Fatalaea provides community awareness at Ilinunu village in East Kwaio.

For more information, please contact: Mr Tommy Esau fataiaman@gmail.com