IMA World Health Launches Coronavirus Health Information Initiative in Tanzania

By John Rivera

In the early onset of the coronavirus’s arrival in Africa, IMA World Health was able to quickly pivot a portion of funding from one of its existing projects in Tanzania to set up a call center in collaboration with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health to provide essential health information about COVID-19 as well as counter misinformation about the coronavirus.

IMA World Health received rapid authorization from UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to use a portion of funding from its Addressing Stunting in Tanzania Early, or ASTUTE, program, a five-year project, to address the growing COVID-19 outbreak. The repurposed funds, which did not affect the operation of ASTUTE, were used to purchase equipment to outfit a call center and pay volunteer stipends. With the close of the ASTUTE program at the end of May 2020, IMA World Health transferred the equipment and its support operations to the Ministry of Health.

The call center has now become one part of the Tanzanian government’s strategy to increase health communication for community awareness of COVID-19. Staffed by the Ministry of Health and housed in one of their buildings in Dar es Salaam, the center helps keep records on what is going on in communities, as well track any rumors being spread.

“I think this is an incredible example of how quickly the British government, and DFID in particular, has responded to this crisis,” said Audrey Sullivan, IMA World Health COVID-19 response team leader. “Our partnership with DFID and with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health is outstanding and will save lives.”

IMA World Heath is well positioned to respond quickly to COVID-19 in Tanzania. IMA Tanzania serves on the national Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Team working on the country’s COVID-19 response. IMA’s Tanzania team works closely with the Ministry of Health and has forged strong and trusting relationships with Ministry counterparts over time. IMA World Health also has blanket purchase agreements with preselected vendors in Tanzania and simplified procurement procedures for emergency needs, increasing its capacity to respond quickly.