Over the past four decades, members of Humana People to People (HPP) have built an extensive project infrastructure with capable human resources that can quickly be tapped into and mobilized to address both the primary and secondary health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.An effective and rapid response to any public health crisis requires close collaboration between community-based organisations, civil society, and local and national governments. It calls for leveraging existing capacities, building trust and relationships to rapidly meet the widespread challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic.

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Over 40 years of experience in epidemic prevention and control at community-level has taught members of HPP that an effective response must place affected people at the forefront of the response. The same applies to HIV, TB and other communicable diseases, as well as COVID-19. The Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) design structure offers a variety of approaches to a wide network of community-based health workers and volunteers engaged in disease prevention. Strategies include community mobilisation, addressing stigma and discrimination, screening for COVID-19 symptoms, distributing face masks and food relief to vulnerable groups.

TCE can be adapted to implement large-scale action, confronting the unique community health challenges posed by COVID-19. This is particularly useful in remote geographical settings where access to basic health education is scarce.

TCE’s Index Case Testing approach in Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa has demonstrated effective tracing of ‘Lost to Follow-Up’ clients, confirming or re-engaging 90% of them on treatment. Tapping on the potential of evidence-based community health initiatives can support and strengthen national governments’ efforts to prevent new infections, promote information awareness campaigns, and identify as well as screen those exposed to, and infected by COVID-19.