Each year, the programme identifies a new set of priority health issues to focus on, and targets a new set of communities. Based on this, relevant partners are gathered to contribute their own unique expertise to carry out the activities.
Typically, campaigns are organized every year for about five days in communities on the islands of Savai’I and Upolu. At the sites, multi-purpose service points are set up with a range of services provided to the local population at one convenient location.
The outreach activities have so far reached more than 30 villages, 25 primary schools and colleges, 2 prison facilities and 2 youth organizations, reaching upwards of 1,400 community members and 2,500 school students.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only a single campaign was organized this year, with restricted participation. It was held at the Ministry of Health conference room on Upolu from 13-17 July, and invited young people in particular to participate. The Ministry of Health partners were given the opportunity to utilize their networks to bring in young people. A total of 260 people took part in a series of workshops. Booths were also set up offering a range of services, from point-of-care testing for HIV and STIs to screening for NCD risk factors.
The organizing partners were the Samoa Red Cross Society, Fa’ataua le Ola (psychosocial support), Nuanua o le Alofa (people with disabilities), Samoa Family Health Association, Young Women Christian Association, Samoa National Youth Council and the Samoa Faafafine Association (transgender community).
“UNDP’s support to building resilient and sustainable health systems does not stop at the clinical or facility level, but rather it runs deeper into communities and reaches those who are vulnerable and marginalized in society,” said Gayane Tovmasyan, Regional Programme Manager, UNDP. “Our experience shows that health responses that involve the community produce strong results, whether it be for HIV, TB and malaria, or in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. This is why we focus on supporting community-level solutions and place community-level involvement as the foundation of our interventions.”
The topics covered in this year’s ICHAP activities were heavily influenced by the ongoing pandemic, which has so far spared Samoa – there have been no confirmed cases in the country (as of the publishing date). Nonetheless, preparation is a high priority in the eventuality that an outbreak occurs. Therefore, in addition to sexual and reproductive health issues and TB, which are covered in each ICHAP campaign, the workshops included awareness raising sessions on COVID-19, including modes of transmission, people who are most at risk and home-based prevention measures.