Osa Rafshodia Rafidin (Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, 2016) is Head of Department of Disease Control and Prevention at the Health City Office of Samarinda, East Borneo, Indonesia. Here, he describes how he has worked with communities to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We had to change the way we worked with social and physical distancing in effect; many management decisions are now taking place online. We also had to change most of our current public health management strategies in primary and secondary care. Until mid-2020, as the nation tried to cope, we increased our testing, tracing and treatment capacities. The biggest challenge was managing human resources. As with physiological problems, the hardest hit were the health workers, whose mortality rate increased at the provincial level.
“Since early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Borneo island where I worked, we had minimal and limited resources, including tracing, tracking and treatment. Strategies included community-based surveillance, where there was active reporting of suspected COVID-19 cases. These were reported to one channel of communication – 112 via phone. 82% of cases were reported from 112. Of these cases, 91% were mild symptoms. For nine months, our office tried to increase communication directly to the community via a community leader. This strategy is very useful for finding new cases and helping the community access trusted information and avoid hoaxes.
“For ten months, we worked to try and respond to every changing situation. There were many government-led changes, from national to city level. Management responses changed unexpectedly as the situation needed response immediately, and delays could worsen the situation.
“The LSHTM community allowed me to network, which is very important. We have many channels of communication with other alumni. Discussions meant bringing one view to another. This is a very valuable resource as we deal with the pandemic.”