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Bridging the gap between decision-makers and frontline staff

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The CSIR is working towards strengthening the capacity of the Department of Health to improve the handling of COVID-19 infections in South Africa. Researchers are contributing to various activities, such as providing technical support, drafting guidelines, as well as providing training to healthcare workers.

Contact Person

Peta de Jager

pdejager@csir.co.za

The CSIR is working towards strengthening the capacity of the Department of Health to improve the handling of COVID-19 infections in South Africa. Researchers are contributing to various activities, such as providing technical support, drafting guidelines, as well as providing training to healthcare workers.

The CSIR’s contribution in this project involves working directly with people who are currently delivering services in health facilities, district coordinators and partners. Researchers are focusing on creating synergy between policy-makers and implementers. Reviewing academic and scientific evidence, and trying to influence systems and solutions so that they are workable, is also critical to success.

“The fight against this pandemic includes assisting organisations with the establishment of infection prevention and control programmes. Even before the beginning of the epidemic, we worked with partners such as the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria, as well as the Foundation for Professional Development, to introduce new continuing professional development courses on infection control. At the start of the epidemic, our researchers trained frontline clinical workers and the military health leadership on the implementation of PPE programmes,” says CSIR research group leader Peta de Jager.

A CSIR-moderated wiki provides current and relevant information on health and the built environment, such as minimum infrastructure standards for alternate care sites for COVID-19. It also has a section on surface disinfection using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation for use against COVID-19. The site is targeted at multidisciplinary audiences working in the fields of building, engineering, infection prevention and control.

“For this work, the CSIR uses multidisciplinary science to tackle COVID-19 related challenges. For example, we draw on CSIR expertise in manufacturing, chemicals, water and aeronautics  to investigate innovative technologies and methods to decontaminate respirators, and use computational fluid dynamics to mitgate infection risk in aircraft cabins and mini-bus taxis,” she says.