The Pacific region continues to work at strengthening its preparedness and response work as 6 Pacific Island Countries have confirmed cases of COVID 19.
The Pacific Community (SPC) along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) facilitated an online webinar last on oxygen therapy with limited response COVID19. This was attended by 35 Tuvalu health workers, as well as doctors and nurses from Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji, Palau, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands.
The discussions held at this meeting also allowed revision of the Oxygen therapy with limited resources for COVID 19 Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) and Pneumonia management. It is also worth mentioning that these management guidelines have been approved by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA), the global body for Anaesthesiologists.
The lead panelist of experts Professor Haydn Perndt said, “It was an excellent forum for discussion, and everyone was very thankful to WHO for supporting this meeting. I think this is a simple but sufficient clinical decision protocol document for Low Resource Settings. As with any technical advice, it’s the distribution and implementation that is vital”.
SPC’s Public Health Division Project Coordinator for the Clinical Services Programme, Mabel Taoi said, “Oxygen Therapy is one of the basic care administered or given to patients with pneumonia or severe breathing problems of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care. With the limited supply of PPE’s, frank discussions were held to ensure that best care was given, with what is available whilst protecting all involved. Tuvalu and other Pacific Island Countries face this reality”.
The webinar also had a panel of experts available to respond to questions from the participants. Panel of experts were from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) and the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM).
Given that travel is restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, webinars as such are one way to connect within the region as it works towards COVID-19 preparedness and response. It brings together Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and a panel of experts in real-time. This allows PICs to talk to each and at the same time can share their issues, concerns, experiences and seek advice or ask questions to the panel of experts and get responses straightaway. Useful resource materials were also provided to participants for guidance.
Tuvalu Department of Health, Health Planning & Management Adviser Clare Whelan said, “It was an excellent session and all 35 of our staff who attended, just about all our Funafuti based health professionals, thought it to be an extremely beneficial session”.
The University of the South Pacific Tuvalu campus supported this webinar and provided Tuvalu health workers their venue and equipment to access the webinar.
Partner and stakeholder collaboration is critical during these unprecedented times as it strengthens capabilities and supports capacity development for Pacific Health Workers as the region remains on alert for COVID-19.