Situation Report
© IOM Burundi/2020
© IOM Burundi/2020

IOM Burundi supports Government’s COVID-19 response efforts

IOM Burundi is supporting the Government’s COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in its role as pillar lead for Points of Entry (PoEs) and Cross-border Coordination.

IOM is currently working to help strengthen public health surveillance at border areas by monitoring cross-border population flows. Trainings of health and border officials are ongoing, and IOM continues to provide health and non-health equipment and materials at PoEs. There are also plans to rehabilitate waiting areas at POEs and assess the protection needs at border PoEs. Additional activities in the pipeline include organizing risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) initiatives that target cross-border communities.

To protect migrants, travellers, and immigration officials at Burundi’s borders from the increasing transmission of COVID-19, IOM is improving transit and waiting areas to reduce contact between passengers. IOM is also continuing to deliver hygiene, communication, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to immigration services. The donated equipment will help build their capacity to manage cross-border movements and respond to challenges created by COVID-19 and other diseases.

Earlier this year, IOM collaborated with the RCCE committee and UNICEF to train staff operating hotline 109, a 24-hour emergency hotline managed by the Burundian Red Cross and supported by IOM. Anyone can call the hotline to ask questions regarding COVID-19, flag information on suspect cases, as well as give general feedback. IOM has also trained community health workers in Bujumbura, Makamba, Muyinga, Rumonge, and Rutana provinces on Psychological First Aid, adapted to COVID-19 messaging in coordination with the national Risk Communication Platform for COVID-19. Trainees have been conducting door-to-door awareness-raising visits about COVID-19 prevention measures, indirectly benefitting around 2,500 people. To reach an even wider audience, IOM is currently working with the ‘Center for Information, Education, and Communication on Population and Development’ to develop COVID-19 awareness messages on mental health, destined for radio broadcast. IOM will also work in collaboration with UNICEF to develop and disseminate RCCE materials at PoEs and for cross-border communities.

Despite these efforts, needs remain high in terms of improving health surveillance and reporting at the community level. Responding to these needs is critical, especially at a time when regional borders are re-opening and countries around the world are reporting a “second wave” of COVID-19 transmissions. IOM is urgently appealing to partners for additional support that will help to reinforce efforts to ensure that vulnerable cross-border populations can identify, isolate, and report suspect cases. A collective, well-coordinated response will support the Government of Burundi’s efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 and other cross-border communicable diseases of epidemic potential.