Soon after COVID-19 was detected outside of China, Global Volunteers began checking in with partner communities around the world. The first case in Tanzania was reported on March 16 in the north. There have been no cases found in the remote Ukwega Ward where Global Volunteers works.
Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Caregivers have been visiting families to promote stringent hand-washing protocols, and to ensure households have soap at their hand-washing stations. Parents attend workshops at the RCP Center on infection prevention, symptoms of COVID-19, and social distancing. The lessons are reinforced by RCP Caregivers using flip charts during home visits, on posters in public spaces and churches, and by loud-speaker on vehicles driving through the villages.
Further, they advise families to inform medical staff at the Ipalamwa General Clinic (IGC) if anyone experiences symptoms of COVID-19. The clinic has been prepared to isolate and treat such patients. No tests, however, have been provided to the IGC for diagnosing the disease. Clinicians are taking actions to ensure IGC is on the government’s distribution list for masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and all other disease prevention supplies. Global Volunteers staff are taking many rigorous precautions to protect our partner villages from outside contamination including:
- Limiting the number of trips and staff in Global Volunteers vehicles for essential travel, such as for transporting a patient to the hospital, purchasing clinic supplies and groceries, and banking.
- Screening drivers’ and caregivers’ temperature on a regular basis as well as anyone being transported in Global Volunteers’ vehicles. Those found with abnormal temperatures will be taken only to the Illula Hospital or Ipalamwa General Clinic.
- Enforcing social distancing by reducing the number of chairs in IGC waiting areas, spacing chairs two meters apart on the verandas, allowing no more than 10 people in the dining hall at any time, and limiting the kitchen area to four people.
- Following all Tanzanian government directives as well as WHO protocols.
The nation-wide hand-washing campaign, which was launched in 2009, has been shown to be effective in many rural areas where families have access to soap and treated water.
The Tanzanian government urges citizens to stay home, but has not issued any orders or prohibitions on travel. Public transportation continues to run, with riders overflowing the seats and aisles. Alternatives to public transportation, however, are out of reach to the nearly 70 percent of Tanzanians who live in poverty (on less than two dollars a day). The public bus to the Ukwega Ward has discontinued service due to heavy rains. RCP Caregivers counsel families on the risks of traveling outside the villages – especially to urban areas. Global Volunteers continues to monitor conditions in Ukwega Ward regularly.