Coronavirus (944) Zambia’s COVID-19 home-based care relieves health facilities

25 August, 2020

Dear HIFA-Zambia and HIFA colleagues,

I was interested to read this news item on the WHO Zambia website. Extracts below and a comment from me. Full text:

https://www.afro.who.int/news/zambias-covid-19-home-based-care-relieves-...

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Zambia’s COVID-19 home-based care relieves health facilities

20 August 2020

The northern Nakonde town is a bustling commercial hub with cross-border movement of people and trucks. When the spike in COVID-19 cases hit rural Nakonde, the health authorities widened testing, but as infections rose, threatening to overwhelm the health system, they reached out for a new strategy.

“We had to take immediate measures or face severe overstretching of our hospitals. We decided to urgently implement home management of infected patients to take the burden off the healthcare system,” says Dr Zulu.

Under the home-based care system, asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic COVID-19 patients under 50 years without underlying conditions or co-morbidities are cared for at home by families with the support of community-based volunteers. But patients with moderate or severe symptoms are admitted to a health facility. The home-based care had been envisaged in the national response plan and became operational in May...

The World Health Organization (WHO) has supported the training of community health workers now helping to ease the burden of COVID-19 in Zambia’s health facilities. The home-based care pioneered in Muchinga province that includes Nakonde has now been adopted across the country’s eight provinces...

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COMMENT (NPW): It's interesting to see home-based care of COVID patients described as if it were an innovation, to be used only when peaks in COVID-19 threaten to overwhelm health facilities. Can anyone comment on the similarities and differences between policy in countries such as the UK and Zambia (and other countries)? In the UK, home-based care is the norm for all but the most serious cases.

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org