Chiefdom virtual mentorship supports local COVID 19 response

Friday, June 12, 2020

There is urgency to help local leaders understand the impact of COVID-19 on their communities and take action to minimize exposure, ensure people who are symptomatic know what to do, retain PLHIV in care, and mitigate gender-based violence and stigma.

Breakthrough ACTION/HC4, a PEPFAR-funded project through USAID, leveraged its chiefdom strengthening platform in Eswatini focused on the HIV response to engage chiefdom leadership in addressing COVID-19 .  

In the face of a national lockdown, HC4 formed WhatsApp groups to support mentorship and action planning to:

  • Support leaders to identify immediate actions needed for COVID-19 and HIV in their chiefdoms

  • Share key updates/information from the Ministry of Health in light of the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Provide a virtual platform for sharing of best practices across chiefdoms on how they are responding and; 

  • Support problem solving and links to additional support if needed.

Weekly thematic sessions were organized using voice recordings and questions posted to guide discussion and identify follow-up actions. Themes include emerging COVID-19 chiefdom responses, HIV service delivery at the community level, gender-based violence, stigma and local church leadership roles and responses. In the six weeks of activity, 87 chiefdoms were reached.

Through mentorship, chiefdoms have mapped COVID-19 hotspots, implemented strategies to facilitate adoption of preventive behaviours  (ie. home tippy taps for handwashing produced, home mask making instructions), shared practices to support vulnerable populations with groceries,  supported children and women facing violence and identified needs related to food distribution, community police engagement, and areas without access to water or masks. Chiefdoms also facilitate sharing of national COVID-19 communication and identified priority risk communication still needed to address myths and misconceptions. 

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Last updated: June 30, 2020

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