Five Countries, Five Stories of Strengthening Safe and Quality Care Amid a Pandemic

Published on June 15, 2022

Emmanuel Attramah/Jhpiego

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, it shocked health systems around the globe. Health facilities and health workers had to rapidly adjust — both to keep patients and health workers safe and to minimize the pandemic’s effect on access to essential health services.

MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership provided technical and capacity development assistance on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control (IPC) in five countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. From equipping staff with new skills to providing facilities with critical supplies and resources, MOMENTUM worked with health teams at all levels to improve WASH and IPC standards in 174 private, public, and faith-based healthcare facilities.

With USAID support, MOMENTUM increased the number of facilities with basic access to water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management, and environmental cleaning services to help ensure the continued delivery of essential reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services— ultimately resulting in improvements in the number of facilities with basic access to water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management, and environmental cleaning services. Beyond the numbers, Shikvala, Ritah, Bintu, Masudul, and Sister Reena describe the impacts of these efforts on their daily work.

Shivkala Pandey, India

Nurse Shivkala Pandey demonstrates the three-bucket mopping trolley to her team. Photo Courtesy of MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership

When the Ganj Basoda Civil Hospital in Madhya Pradesh, India, registered its first COVID-19 case, Nurse-in-Charge Shivkala Pandey remembers staying at the facility all night to clean and take other infection prevention and control measures. Lacking proper supplies, Shikvala and her team also got innovative, asking a local tailor to make face masks and other protective equipment from surgical gowns. Their efforts were bolstered when MOMENTUM offered virtual preparedness trainings, holding monthly video conferences and regularly providing remote support through WhatsApp groups and telephone calls. “We knew the basics of the processes, but these trainings helped us translate that knowledge into practice,” shared Shikvala. MOMENTUM also helped to highlight existing gaps in WASH/IPC practices and infrastructure, developed an action plan to address those gaps, and supported the formation of a facility-based IPC Committee to ensure progress.

Ritah Niwamanya, Uganda

Ritah Nwamanya, a nurse-midwife in Kanungu district, Uganda. Photo Credit: Acheng Brenda

Nurse-midwife Ritah Niwamanya didn’t think much about the importance of handwashing until COVID-19 arrived in the Western Ugandan district of Kanungu. Along with her colleagues, she received training from MOMENTUM on IPC measures. The project also installed handwashing equipment, including a 2,000-liter water tank at the community health center’s main entrance and sinks in all wards and major areas used by health workers and facility cleaners. “I realized that washing hands was one of the ways that would set everyone free from the infection, so that is why all of us at the health center had to embrace it,” said Ritah. Following the training, she began sharing her knowledge widely. “We used communication charts to teach patients how to wash hands and about the importance of the practice,” she said. “This has eased the process and improved hygiene at the center.”

Bintu, Sierra Leone

The Geoma Jargor Community Health Center in Sierra Leone’s Pujehun district was in desperate shape six months into the pandemic. The water supply was unreliable, health workers faced ongoing shortages of protective supplies and materials, and both health workers and patients alike were afraid to enter the facility. MOMENTUM supported training for the health center’s staff on measures including good hand hygiene and proper use of masks; helped procure key supplies, such as sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE); and installed a sanitary waste zone. As a result, the health center increased its WASH/IPC ‘readiness score’ from 36 percent to 85 percent. The support “could not have come at a better time. This is a red-letter day for the facility,” said Bintu, who is in charge of the center’s peripheral health unit. “We feel safe from contracting any health-associated infection including COVID-19.”

To learn more about how we helped facilities in Sierra Leone respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our technical brief.

Onitta J. Kposowah, a community health officer at Geoma Jargor Community Health Center, uses a waste zone that was refurbished with USAID support. Photo Courtesy of MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership

Masudul Hasan, Bangladesh

Musudul Hasan, a cleaner at Bakergonj Upazila Health Complex, safely disposes of medical waste using materials and training he received from MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership. Photo Credit: Elija Chambugang

For years, Masudul Hasan has been a cleaner at Bakerganj Upazila Health Complex, a primary health facility in Bangladesh. When COVID-19 hit, he and other cleaners found themselves without the proper resources and knowledge to manage an influx of patients while keeping themselves and their families safe. MOMENTUM launched an IPC training program at the health complex, where Masudul and his colleagues learned IPC protocols, including the proper use of PPE, proper handwashing with soap, and the importance of cleaning high-touch surfaces with disinfectant. MOMENTUM also created burn pits and provided training on proper waste segregation. “Earlier there was scarcity of waste bins in our hospitals,” said Masudul. “Now there are different colored bins and we have learned how to use those bins properly.” Now equipped with a new toolkit of IPC supplies and knowledge, Masudul said he feels more confident, safe, and relieved to keep his patients healthy.

To learn more about how we helped facilities in Bangladesh respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our technical and learning briefs.

Sister Reena, Ghana

At the Holy Family Hospital in Berekum, Ghana, Sister Reena and her team received support to improve their IPC practices and enhance their delivery of quality, nurturing care for mothers and babies during the pandemic. Watch the video below to hear Sister Reena and her team describe these improvements and their impact on the hospital’s staff and patients.

Webinar Recording

To learn more about our work in each of these countries, watch our recent webinar, “Ensuring the Delivery of Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A WASH and Infection Prevention Response Across Five Countries.”

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