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One hundred and forty health workers from across Georgia – frontline responders to the pandemic – received specialized training to effectively respond to COVID-19 cases while ensuring their own safety and preventing further transmission.
Ambulance doctors, nurses and emergency vehicle drivers learned standard operating procedures for preventing and controlling infection during the transportation of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. The Emergency Situations Coordination and Urgent Assistance Center conducted the trainings within the framework of the Solidarity for Health initiative implemented by WHO and funded by the European Union (EU).
Additionally, a special protocol was developed for mitigating the risk of infection among health workers exposed to COVID-19.
“Patients may not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, increasing the risk of infection for medical personnel, especially frontline responders. This is why I keep reminding my staff to always use personal protective equipment, so that medical personnel do not further the spread of the virus,” says Ilya Besalashvili, Ambulance Manager from Kaspi. “We found this training extremely useful – it gave us good insight into how doctors, nurses and drivers should operate to guarantee our safety as well as that of our families, patients, and their family members.”
Cascaded training for a well prepared health system
The trained health workers will in turn share information with their colleagues – over 7000 medical specialists, village doctors, ambulance teams and resuscitators.
“When COVID-19 broke out and the information on the virus was poor, the infection spread through the ambulance teams so quickly that we had to close services in some regions. It was a real nightmare,” says Vasil Davitashvili, Instructor at the Training Center for Coordination of Action in Emergencies and Emergency Aid. “Today we have good knowledge and necessary personal protective equipment. These trainings ensure better prevention and increase our self-confidence.”
“During this post-crisis period, when the epidemiological situation is relatively stable in Georgia, all efforts should be directed to ensure that the health system is well prepared in case of additional needs in the near future,” says Silviu Domente, WHO Representative to Georgia.
EU funding: from COVID-19 response to building resilient health systems
The first phase of the joint WHO–EU Solidarity for Health initiative focused on the COVID-19 response. It included the delivery of more than 1.5 million items of personal protective equipment for frontline health and laboratory workers, a study to gain insights into COVID-19-related behaviours in the general population, and support to strengthen national capacities for enhanced surveillance and infection prevention and control.
This assistance is part of a wider package of EU support for Georgia of over 400 million euros (almost 1.5 billion Georgian lari), which includes support for vulnerable groups and economic recovery. In total, the EU has committed over 15 billion euros globally to support partner countries to combat COVID-19.