Responding to COVID-19 on the outer islands of Tuvalu

Authors

  • Karen Hammad Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia; College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; Division of Pacific Support, World Health Organization, Suva, Fiji https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8909-3191
  • Lily Tangisia Faavae Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs, Funafuti, Tuvalu
  • Aloima Taufilo Fiji Emergency Medical Assistance Team, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Suva, Fiji
  • Margaret Leong Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji
  • Viliame Nasila Fiji Emergency Medical Assistance Team, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Suva, Fiji

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5365/wpsar.2024.15.2.1080

Keywords:

Micronesia, emergencies, health, hospital, pandemics, infection control, nursing

Abstract

Problem: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reached Tuvalu’s shores in November 2022, making Tuvalu one of the last countries in the world to experience community transmission of the disease. With minimal capacity to deliver critical care and a small health workforce that had been further depleted by COVID-19 infection, response priorities rapidly shifted to the outer islands.

Context: The outer islands are accessible only by boat, with travel taking from 6 to 24 hours. The return of high school students to their home islands for the Christmas holidays had the potential to place further pressure on the islands’ medical facilities.

Action: A multiorganizational collaboration between the Australian and Fijian governments, the Pacific Community, the Tuvalu Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs (MoHSWGA) and the World Health Organization facilitated the deployment of two teams to the outer islands to provide support.

Outcome: The team worked with public health and clinical staff to provide technical support for clinical management, infection prevention and control, laboratory, risk communication, community engagement and logistics.

Discussion: The outer islands’ response to the pandemic significantly benefited the island communities, the MoHSWGA and the team members who deployed. The key lessons identified relate to the need to strengthen the health workforce and supply chain.

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Published

09-05-2024

How to Cite

1.
Hammad K, Faavae LT, Taufilo A, Leong M, Nasila V. Responding to COVID-19 on the outer islands of Tuvalu. Western Pac Surveill Response J [Internet]. 2024 May 9 [cited 2024 May 23];15(2):5. Available from: https://ojs.wpro.who.int/ojs/index.php/wpsar/article/view/1080

Issue

Section

Lessons from the Field

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