Following the announcement from the Government of Nigeria that the country would enter into Phase II of reopening, the S4SIPMS project Nigeria management team contacted all USAID HIV/TB implementing partners on the possibility of conducting in person SIMS assessments in the fourth quarter of FY 20. All partners agreed to this proposal. Although the country moved forward with its gradual reopening, the priority for DevTech has always been to ensure the safety of all project technical staff. The following measures have been put into place and are observed by all S4SIPMS technical staff during SIMS assessment visits:
- The use of a N95 face mask throughout the entire period of the SIMS assessment
- All staff have been given pocket – size hand sanitizer to use during the SIMS assessment and throughout the day
- Project vehicles transport no more than three staff members at a time
- Availability of extra face masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves in the project vehicle
- Staff always have the choice to opt-out of participating in SIMS assessment should they feel uncomfortable for any reason.
To ensure hitch-free field visits, the health facilities management and Government of Nigeria have instituted the following measures across all the facilities, and are to be observed by all before entering the sites:
- Compulsory hand washing before entering site
- Compulsory temperature check
- Compulsory use of hand sanitizer
- Compulsory use of face mask
- Social distancing with limited number of health workers at the sites
The Implementing Partners also adopted precautionary measures for their staff and offices based on guidelines provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Despite the unusual circumstances he Q4 FY 20 SIMS assessments are going on smoothly. So far thirteen sites have been assessed with all the sites meeting PEPFAR expectations in a majority of service delivery areas.
S4SIPMS will continue to collaborate with the implementing partners and facility staff as this remains the bedrock of our success. The S4SIMPS project has also been very careful when selecting sites to assess, paying close attention to the epidemiological evidence to determine whether a state or region is recording a high number of cases. We are doing our best to mitigate all the risks associated with the virus and to keep our staff safe. Based on the existing data, DevTech is continuing to keep assessments in Lagos State on hold until the first quarter of 2021, as Lagos is currently the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria. The S4SIPMS staff will continue be vigilant and pay close attention to the health data in order to make safe and informed decision.
To read more about the Nigeria S4SIPMS Project and SIMS Assessments please visit the project page here.