WHO Tanzania provides technical support to Zanzibar decentralization of COVID-19 response
These facilities will isolate suspect cases, collect samples for testing and manage them appropriately.
In March 2020, when COVID-19 cases were identified the government closed all education institutions, suspended sports, political rallies and international flights. However, since May 2020, the country has been reporting less cases, hence as of mid-June, these restrictions are being relaxed in phases.
Given the available information, COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time. Therefore, the health system in Tanzania is embracing the reality of integrating COVID-19 services at districts health facilities and continuing other essential services, thus moving from a centrally managed response.
Following this decentralization policy, the Ministry of Health in Zanzibar has designated health facilities to manage COVID-19 cases in each district. These facilities will isolate suspect cases, collect samples for testing and manage them appropriately. Severe cases will be referred to central level treatment centers.
The Ministry of Health with technical support from World Health Organization (WHO) have developed technical guidance in all five areas of response, namely: coordination, surveillance, case management and infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement and logistics.
“We wish that all health facilities in Zanzibar have the capacity to identify, collect samples and manage COVID-19 cases. Cases may decline now but they may recur. Therefore, we need to capacitate our district health management teams, our health facilities and health volunteers to detect suspect cases, isolate them and even take samples,” said the Emergency Operations Centre Manager Dr. Hussein Haji.
According to Dr. Haji designated COVID-19 treatment facilities within districts have been identified in Unguja and Pemba and in the former clinical teams have been mentored on case detection, case management and IPC practices. The second phase will be mentorship of health care workers at designated facilities in Pemba.
The new approach is expected to be more effective as the available services in the health systems will be used to optimize care for all patients. In addition, 500 community health volunteers who had been originally trained to reach households to provide support for maternal and child health services have been re-trained to support contact tracing for COVID-19.
“WHO is ready to provide technical and financial assistance to strengthen the response to COVID-19. We are also sharing new evidence and knowledge as it evolves. It is very important to make sure that our health systems in their entirety are prepared to deal with health emergencies,” said Dr. Tigest Ketsela Mengestu, WHO Tanzania Country Representative.