The USAID MTaPS Program is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to manage and contain the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the emergency, the program has rolled out a national action plan in collaboration with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), particularly the Communicable Diseases Control unit; Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research; Office of Director of Hospitals; Central Medical Stores Depot under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and other stakeholders, including Johns Hopkins University.
MTaPS is supporting USAID on its COVID-19 response in several countries where the program is already present. In Bangladesh, MTaPS’ ongoing work with the government focuses on strengthening the country’s pharmaceutical system to sustainably eliminate medicine stock-outs and shortages and promote appropriate use of medical products.
The program’s COVID-19 response strategy in the country includes a two-pronged action plan: building capacity for infection prevention and control (IPC) and strengthening supply chain management for commodities needed to prevent and treat COVID-19 at health facilities.
Building Nationwide IPC Capacity on Fast Track
MTaPS has developed a training of trainers (ToT) program to help build the capacity of health care providers on IPC guidelines tailored to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the quickly evolving situation limiting movement of communities, the training is being adapted and delivered through video conferencing.
The first training, delivered March 15-24, developed the capacity of more than 700 trainers nationwide on several IPC fronts. Sessions covered triage; early infection recognition and source control; applying standard precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE); and implementing additional transmission-based precautions, sterilization, and disinfection. The country team is supplementing the online training with print materials on national IPC guidelines for COVID-19. The guidelines were developed by MTaPS’ global technical experts and the technical working group in Bangladesh and are based on guidance from WHO and other international organizations.
The ToT trained two participants from each district with the objective that they would then train health care providers at their own facilities, thus amplifying IPC capacity. The ToT also covered health care providers from select medical college hospitals and specialized hospitals with the same objective.
The program is continuing to use the virtual training format for capacity building of more doctors and nurses from medical college hospitals and district hospitals.
MTaPS also developed a short video on the do’s and don’ts during the pandemic to show in waiting areas of medical college hospitals, district hospitals, and upazila health complexes to create awareness among the patients and their families who come to the health care facilities for services.
Managing Emergency Commodities Supply Chain
The MTaPS country team is working with the DGHS and its Institute of Epidemiology, Diseases Control and Research; the Centers for Disease Control; the Central Medical Stores Depot; and other stakeholders to develop an online reporting system that will strengthen supply chain management for emergency commodities at health facilities.
The system is designed to receive and issue COVID-19 commodities and related items, including PPE; support their rational distribution; and track daily stock status of individual items. It is hosted by the government’s existing web-based Supply Chain Management Portal.
The DGHS Director of Hospitals and Clinics has notified all health facilities on the frontlines that they should use these systems to manage and maintain COVID-19 commodities to improve the distribution of these critical items.