Training prepares health workers to respond to pandemic

The United Nations Children's Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.) is leading the way in the Pacific region to help front line health care workers respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

An online health care training has been launched to support the front-line healthcare workers.

The training will be aired over a period of six months with a total of 33 broadcasts of 30-minutes each that aim to support governments to connect practicing nurses and midwives with the opportunity to learn, share information, and incorporate new World Health Organisation guidance on COVID-19.

The participating front-line healthcare workers will also have the opportunity to ask questions for future episodes, share learning needs and receive episode summaries through U.N.I.C.E.F.’s RapidPro platform, which is a two-way communication system that works with free SMS and messaging apps from smartphones.

The Health Care on Air Pacific training is to be aired on radio and other communication platforms for front-line healthcare workers across 14 countries: Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Tuvalu, Niue, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Republic of Marshall Islands and Tokelau.

The teaching and learning methodology developed for Health Care on Air Pacific will also be included in the national nursing accreditation systems for in-service professional development. 

According to Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, he said that the global spread of COVID-19 to countries and territories indicates that “a risk somewhere is a risk anywhere.”

And as a global village, the increasing incidence of the disease in some countries around the world is a threat to the entire Pacific,” he added.

“Our development partners had stood alongside us during the assault of the pandemic. 

“Let us embrace this new development by protecting the children of our nations through empowering our front-line healthcare workers during this difficult time.”

One of the greatest challenges currently facing healthcare systems in the Pacific is how to provide front-line healthcare workers with training on managing COVID-19 infections when they arise, while continuing to deliver quality essential health services to the most remote and hard to reach populations.

The U.N.I.C.E.F. Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett also mentioned that the majority of nurses and midwives in the Pacific are located in remote rural areas and outer islands, which means they often miss out on regular trainings and updates.

“These front-line health workers provide services to more than two million people, including children, across the region, and need to be equipped with the most up-to-date health knowledge and skills to deliver the best services to these communities.”

The United States of America’s Ambassador to Fiji, Joseph Cella relayed that this great radio programme highlights the strong commitment to the region by the government of the United States of America.

“In both preventing the spread of this deadly and costly virus, containing it where it is, assisting in its mitigation, and more importantly, helping build a more stable and secure future for the Pacific islands.”

More than 5,000 Pacific front-line healthcare workers will now benefit from this first ever regional training, with support from World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the Pacific Community, to enhance the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to protect themselves and deliver the best quality services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Jonathan Curr added that now more than ever we need to work together as one region, sharing our skills and expertise and supporting each other to respond to, and recover from, the impacts of the global pandemic.

“This initiative brings together multiple partners, donors and skilled technical experts and will go a long way in sharing knowledge, learning and building capacity across the region.”

Health Care on Air Pacific will provide frontline health workers in the Pacific with the precious knowledge, skills and confidence in a constructive and meaningful way, said the Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Omura Masahiro.

“This is like a Pacific shield against COVID-19, in the making. I am delighted to see that Governments of Pacific Island countries and development partners including Japan, the United States, New Zealand, and UNICEF are uniting our collective strength in keeping the Pacific safe from COVID-19.”

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