Blog post

ETC Snapshots from the Field: training for Fiji's COVID-19 helpline

“Do you have fever and a cough, or difficulty breathing?”

This is the first question asked by operators answering calls on Fiji’s COVID-19 helpline. The toll-free ‘158’ number is open 24/7 for anyone who has questions about possible symptoms, where to seek support and even which ports remain open, as the country tackles the spread of the virus.

In Fiji, the government took the reins in setting up its helpline, calling on the ETC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to help facilitate training. “We took operators through the call script, briefed them on the facts around COVID-19 and explained that they are – in essence – part of the front line in the response to the virus,” says Hlekiwe Kachali, ETC Coordinator in the Pacific.

Short code helplines are one element of the operational strategy crafted by the ETC in the Pacific. Countries in the region can adapt the strategy to their own COVID-19 emergency response plans. Putting populations and health authorities in touch – from a distance – allows helplines to spread credible health information to the far reaches of the Pacific’s remote island nations.