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Project HOPE and Johnson & Johnson Foundation Partner to Deliver Localized COVID-19 Training to Protect and Support Indonesian Healthcare Workers

Indonesia has less than half the WHO recommended numbers of doctors and nurses. With more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases to date, the country’s health workers are at risk every day.

Article contributed by Give2Asia

In September 2020, a local pulmonologist had a video call with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to share his personal experience on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. The numbers were rising, and hospitals were severely undermanned, he said, adding that dozens of health workers, including himself, had already contracted the virus.

Indonesia, one of the world’s most populous countries, has less than half the WHO recommended numbers of doctors and nurses serving the population. With more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases to date, the country’s health workers are at risk every day.

As part of an effort to strengthen Indonesia’s healthcare capacity, Johnson & Johnson Foundation collaborated with Project HOPE on the “Training Healthcare Workers for COVID-19 Response in Indonesia” project. The project delivered a Train-the-Trainer program to scale healthcare workers’ and hospitals’ capacity for COVID-19 preparedness and response, as well as Infection Preparedness and Control (IPC), particularly in West Kalimantan, Papua, and Central Java.

“Our long-term partnership with Project HOPE to support mothers and babies provided a strong foundation for the project,” explains Katsura Tsuno, Director of Asia Pacific Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson. Project HOPE was able to quickly redirect resources to support nurses, midwives, community healthcare workers and other frontline health workers put at risk by the pandemic. “It was critically important to meet the local needs,” said Tsuno. “At the same time, we tried to ensure good alignment with our focus on supporting frontline health workers. Not just responding to the immediate needs, but to make sustainable impact for the long term.”

The project began by localizing COVID-19 training courses developed by Brown University. These modules contained the latest pandemic response protocols and best practices such as contact tracing, screening, diagnosis and management. The work involved far more than translation into Bahasa Indonesian; the Project HOPE team aligned the materials with local government regulations and adapted each training module to the Indonesian setting. To ensure that the material met the healthcare workers’ needs, Indonesian experts from medical organizations, the academe and district health offices also reviewed the modules before online trainings commenced.

“While the program reflects the knowledge and experience at the global level, Project Hope ensured that it was adapted for the local healthcare context, local culture and met the community’s needs,” says Tsuno.

As the project continued, health offices and hospitals in the target provinces agreed on and adopted an IPC plan and received technical assistance through a partnership between Project HOPE and the Indonesian Society for Infection Control.

Demand for the trainings among healthcare workers was significant, and the project’s reach quickly exceeded expectations. In four online Training of Trainer sessions, 1,413 participants from 10 hospitals attended. Those trainers cascaded that knowledge to nearly 32,000 other healthcare workers, providing vital information to protect themselves and their patients from COVID-19. As of May 2021, an estimated 1,580 children and 1,340 mothers have already received care from the newly trained health workers.

Give2Asia facilitated Johnson & Johnson Foundation’s corporate donor-advised grant to Project HOPE. In times of crisis, leveraging proven partnerships can help with swift and impactful response, Tsuno adds. “With their understanding of local needs, Project HOPE was able to rapidly implement a successful program despite the logistical challenges created by the pandemic. Give2Asia’s expertise as a grant-making intermediary organization made it possible for us to move very quickly on our COVID-19 response.”

Tsuno is optimistic that the project’s benefits will continue beyond the current crisis. The knowledge gained by the trainers and staff will help strengthen Indonesia’s healthcare system—and provide frontline workers a valuable skill set for ongoing infectious disease prevention.