16 communities in the Guadalcanal province, 11 in the North West and 5 in West Guadalcanal, have had their community level COVID-19 preparedness and response plans endorsed by the Guadalcanal Provincial health authorities, Friday last week with the plans returned to them over the weekend for implementation.
This followed the roll out of trainings in 2020 for selected community representatives on the National Community Preparedness and Engagement Toolkit to empower communities to take lead in protecting themselves against COVID-19.
The training aims to raise community awareness on COVID-19 and take further steps to empower them to develop their own COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. Twenty- nine (29) more communities who have already received the training are expected to complete their plans for endorsement and commence implementation in the coming weeks as well as similar community awareness and engagement trainings for communities along North East Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal Province Health Director Dr Joel Denty explained what having a community COVID-19 action plan means. “So what this basically means for these communities is that they are now ready to start implementing their COVID-19 plan of actions derived from their own COVID-19 preparedness and response plan developed with the guidance of our provincial health team”,
“It involves what the communities will now do to continue promoting COVID-19 key preventative measures, how they will respond to community transmissions of COVID-19 including lockdowns. It also includes identifying COVID-19 signs and symptoms and where to temporarily isolate suspects while authorities make their way to the village for verification in the event of an outbreak”, explained Dr Denty.
He highlighted that the achievements of these 16 communities is from the push by the provincial health team and more importantly the willingness and commitment by the communities to protect themselves against the virus.
Echoing similar sentiments of acknowledgement, National Health Emergency Operation Centre (NHEOC Incidence Controller Dr Gregory Jilini, applauded the 16 communities stating that their achievements will go a long way in mitigating COVID-19 risks and protect their people against COVID-19 and the country as a whole.
He highlighted that the commitment and cooperation by the communities is greatly appreciated and a fulfilment on their part on the famous slogan, Iumi Tugeda against COVID-19.
“We may put in place all the capacity and capabilities to tackle the global pandemic at the national and provincial level but if our communities are not empowered to join in the fight, we are still far from ready”, explained Dr Jilini. Guadalcanal Provincial Government and the communities including other stakeholders involved in the effort to roll out the COVID-19 community engagement program. “It is not always an easy task especially when responding to such a new outbreak like COVID-19 which has its own unique set of challenges with usual issues of accessibility, bad weather, limited resources, etc, nevertheless, your achievements should serve as a beacon of hope that our combined efforts, commitment and dedication truly has the power to overcome these challenges”.
He urge communities who have already received the training to complete their plans and share with health focal points for finalization and advised other communities to link up with the health promotion officers in their respective provinces for training, development and finalization of their COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
The National COVID-19 community awareness and engagement toolkit was developed by the MHMS Health Promotion Department in September 2020 and since then have been rolled out via provincial health promotion team. Similar undertakings are currently in progress in the Western, Malaita, Honiara City Council and Central Provinces.