Throughout Africa, and in nearly all low-income regions around the world, community health workers (CHWs) augment the professional medical corps by offering critical medical and public health services. They provide community health education, basic clinical services, health surveillance, mother and child assistance and much more.
Early in 2020. WiRED International inaugurated our CHW Training Program to teach local people in Kisumu, Kenya, about health basics, patient assessment, clinical issues, health teaching and monitoring.
The double punch of COVID-19 and dengue outbreaks is endangering health care in dengue-endemic countries such as Brazil, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The overlapping of the two diseases presents a challenge for accurate diagnosis and treatment because both infections initially share similar symptoms. Dengue programs have been halted in many countries as efforts are focused on stopping COVID-19. Funds for dengue routine vector control and mosquito netting have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital beds are in short supply.
What is long-haul COVID-19?
Long-haul COVID-19 — Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection — occurs when patients who have been infected with the virus experience new, recurring or ongoing symptoms four or more weeks after infection, sometimes after initial symptom recovery. These post-virus conditions constitute a lack of return to a usual state of health after the COVID-19 illness. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety and depression. They can persist for months and range from mild to incapacitating. In some cases, new symptoms arise well after the time of infection or evolve over time.
Any infection can lead to sepsis — a life-threatening emergency — yet few people know what it is.
Sepsis is a complication of infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. The condition constitutes a global healthcare problem, and despite advances in modern medicine such as vaccines, antibiotics and intensive care, it is the primary cause of death from infection, especially in underserved countries.
With a health issue like COVID-19, we all like a linear story: There’s a killer virus out there, but we’ve found a vaccine that stops it cold in an individual, and when enough of us get the vaccine, the virus fades away and we all return to life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness.
That isn’t the COVID-19 story, though. It’s a dangerous virus, where some people get sick, some die and some never feel a thing. There are remarkable vaccines, but they have a sliding scale of effectiveness, and then they attenuate, and so we’ll need a booster to keep the virus from breaking through. Then some people who get sick from COVID-19 get well and seem protected, but then ill health effects return. These long-haulers are a mystery. Don’t even ask about the variants where the first COVID-19 was bad, but some of the follow-ups are worse by spreading faster and making people sicker.
When WiRED International’s Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Kisumu, Kenya, graduated early in 2020 nobody could have foreseen that they would soon have to defend their communities from a global pandemic. WiRED’s CHWs continue to witness firsthand the effects of COVID-19 on their communities and the impact the pandemic is having not only on health but on businesses, jobs, schools and daily life. As fully trained vaccinators, thanks to WiRED’s Vaccinator Training Program (VTP), WiRED’s CHWs now stand ready to further support their communities by working with local doctors and nurses to distribute and administer vaccines as soon as they arrive.
WiRED International has run a number of articles on this website about our Vaccinator Training Program, but as we get closer to the day COVAX distributes vaccines, our concerns are growing about the availability of qualified staff in underserved countries to move the vaccines, set up shot clinics and administer the vaccinations. We recognize that agencies supplying vaccines have not prepared for the shortage of vaccination teams, so to avoid vaccines spoiling in warehouses we’re stepping up our efforts to reach out to regional health agencies and to donors for assistance with this vaccinator training program. So far, we have successfully trained medical teams in Kenya, Uganda and Liberia and funded this with small donations. We are asking our supporters to circulate the following statement (in PDF form here and at the end of the article) about our Vaccinator Training Program with the aim of reaching larger donors to make this program available across Africa, Latin America and beyond.
COVID-19 vaccines are finally being delivered in Africa — but few jabs are being administered. Why? Unfortunately, the current global emphasis rests on purchasing vaccines instead of training vaccinators.
A recent Claremont Graduate University (CGU) news article, “New Paper Identifies ‘Citizen Vaccinators’ as the Solution to Pandemic Challenges in Many Nations,” draws attention to WiRED’s Vaccinator Training Program (VTP) as detailed in the latest publication of the Journal of Southern California Clinicians.
The COVAX global effort to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved countries is well underway. But what needs to happen to get doses from airports to arms?
One answer is to train ordinary citizens in their local communities to vaccinate the millions of people in low-resource countries where doctors and nurses are scarce.