Giving Compass' Take:

• Many low-and middle-income countries can benefit from community-based models centered in expertise and support from community organizations in responding to COVID-19. 

• How can donors help identify and bolster community workers and organizations that are equipped to handle coronavirus in low- and middle-income countries? 

• Read more about community-based health care. 

Almost uniformly across the developing world, pandemic policy responses so far have tried to replicate the typical developed country strategy: social distancing coupled with national lockdowns, quarantining suspected cases in centralized locations, and increasing hospital capacity of hospitals by shoring up their intensive care units (ICUs) and increasing the supply of invasive mechanical ventilators. This will almost certainly have to change.

But to help poorer countries deal with infection rates in the neighborhood of the 30,000 per 100,000 being predicted by the modeling work of the Imperial College COVID-19 team—even with social distancing—these strategies will have to be supplemented by an entirely different set of measures.

Many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) lack adequate hospital and emergency transportation infrastructure, but most have strong community-based structures, such as community-based organizations and local nonprofits. LMICs could benefit from the near ubiquitous presence of these nonprofit organizations if their governments empower them to, among other things:

  1. Identify the most vulnerable, such as individuals over the age of 60, and guide their families on how to protect them over the next several years until a good adult vaccine is developed;
  2. Communicate home care and isolation guidelines even for the very sick, including the development of collaborative arrangements between families where space within a single home is limited;
  3. Map the local primary care provider (PCP) network, including private and the nonprofit providers and, wherever possible, assign households to specific PCPs so that when the numbers start to rise, there is no confusion as to who is responsible for taking care of particular families;
  4. Ensure that these PCPs are well prepared to manage all but the sickest of the cases; and
  5. Provide essential support to those families that are in the greatest economic need.

Read the full article about using community-based models to respond to the pandemic by Nachiket Mor at Brookings.