EHS-COVID (284) WHO and HIFA: Maintaining essential health services during the pandemic (2)

9 May, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Our preceding messages are currently being prepared as a learning brief for publication on the WHO website. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the discussion I'd like to share:

Mmusetsi Mokwatsi, South Africa "In South Africa, Sad thing was that children who tested positive for COVID-19 and were due to have surgery, were send back to their referring hospital. These are children coming as far as Eastern Cape province, North West province and Swaziland. They had travelled all this way to have their surgery done and they had to go back without the surgery”. [53]

Joseph Ana (Nigeria) "Every facet of the continuum of the health system is affected, from promotive to preventive, curative, rehabilitative and continuity of care... The majority of the populations are in denial of the existence of COVID-19 and would rather believe conspiracy theories, especially in countries like Nigeria. Simple messages that cost little to nothing and which individuals should implement are neglected, e.g., wearing a mask, physical distancing, handwashing". [86]

Jane Lennon (UK) "Swasti's Invest for Wellness (i4We) primary healthcare model in India has been providing 'tele-care'; health, counselling and social protection schemes delivered via phone. This includes symptomatic Covid-19 surveillance, testing and follow-up care, but also extends to counselling and responding to gender-based violence. Within two months, i4We programmes clocked more than 30,000 calls from nine sites alone". [108]

Vinay Bothra (Timor Leste) "Following its first confirmed case in March 2020, childhood immunisation coverage dropped by 30% the next month in April. By over-compensating on the supply side (expanded door-to-door campaigns to identify and vaccinate unprotected children), Timor-Leste has been able to achieve similar coverage by July 2020 as compared with July 2019". [113]

All of the above are open for further discussion. Email:

With thanks, Neil

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Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: