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Isabella* is playing with her baby Cecilia* outside their home. Image credit: Fredrik Lerneryd / Save the Children

June 3, 2020, 0800-0900 EDT/1200-1300 GMT | Featuring: Oliver Morgan, WHO Health Emergencies Program; Niluka Wijekoon, WHO Health Emergencies Program; Heba Hayek, UNHCR; Naomi Ngaruiya, Kenya Red Cross Society

COVID-19 surveillance in humanitarian settings is challenging for many reasons, including insecurity, insufficient supplies and tests, and limited human and financial capacity. Countries and organizations have decided upon different surveillance strategies at the health facility and community levels, depending on their context. This webinar (the tenth in the weekly webinar series co-hosted by READY) will provide information on surveillance together with examples from Jordan and Lebanon. Free registration in advance is required. A recording will be made available for those unable to attend the live webinar.

Moderator: Oliver Morgan, Ph.D., MSc, FFPH, WHO Health Emergencies Program

Dr. Oliver Morgan is the Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO Health Emergencies Program. From 2007 through 2016, Dr. Morgan worked for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during which time he held critical leadership positions in the Ebola response.


  • Niluka Wijekoon, M.D., WHO Health Emergencies Program: Dr. Niluka Wijekoon is a Medical Epidemiologist with the Health Emergencies Program at WHO headquarters in Geneva, in the Department of Health Information Management and Risk Assessment. Dr Wijekoon is a technical expert in surveillance, early warning, alert and response in emergency settings.
  • Heba Hayek, Pharm.D., UNHCR: Dr. Heba Hayek has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Jordan with a Master in Public Health degree from Emory University, Atlanta. She has experience in public health focusing on health information systems. Dr. Hayek has been working with UNHCR in the public health unit in Jordan for nearly seven years, focusing on the Syrian and Iraqi refugee situation.
  • Naomi Ngaruiya, R.N., Kenya Red Cross Society: Ms. Naomi Ngaruiya is a Registered Community Health Nurse with a Master’s degree in Programme Planning & Management and Development Economics. She has diverse knowledge in community health services and interventions, having served in humanitarian organizations for the last 20 years coordinating varied community health interventions.

Featuring: Mija-tesse Ververs, Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health; Sarah O’Flynn, Save the Children; Allison Oman Lawi, World Food Programme; Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, Action Against Hunger UK; Kate Golden, Concern Worldwide

“The Next Crisis Wave of COVID-19: Impacts on household food security and nutrition and preparedness considerations” was the ninth webinar in the COVID-19 and Humanitarian Settings weekly series. It was held on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 0800-0900 EDT/1200-1300 GMT).

As the world focuses on responding to the first wave of COVID-19, we must recognize the next crisis wave: the impacts of the pandemic on household food security and nutrition. As disruptions to markets, food systems, and health services are felt critically by households around the world, we invite experts and field practitioners to discuss projections related to food and nutrition security as well as ways we are adapting to both measure and respond to these shocks.


  • Mija-tesse Ververs, Center for Humanitarian Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Since 2016, Mija Ververs has been working at the Center for Humanitarian Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is a visiting health scientist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Her field of expertise lies in nutrition, public health, food security, and infectious diseases. Mija has over 35 years of experience and has worked with more than 15 organizations varying from international NGOs, IFRC, ICRC, various UN agencies, and government and academic institutions. Mija has worked in over 25 countries affected by conflict or natural disasters.
  • Sarah O’Flynn, Director of Emergency Nutrition, Save the Children: Sarah has spent the last 12 years focusing on the nutritional health of children, pregnant and breastfeeding women in emergencies with a focus on response programming, capacity strengthening, and operations research. Sarah has supported emergency responses in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America after managing field programs in Sudan and South Sudan.

Expert Speakers

  • Allison Oman Lawi, Deputy Divisional Director for Nutritional Operations, Analysis, and Integration, World Food Programme: Allison has worked for WFP for the last six years as the Senior Regional Nutrition Advisor for East, Horn and Central Africa, based in Nairobi. Previous WFP work includes evaluating projects in Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Eritrea and Darfur. She began her nutrition work in 1996 with MSF in Uganda and her UN career one year later with UNHCR in Ethiopia. Allison has worked for UNHCR at different points in her career, with her last position as the Nutrition and Food Security Advisor for the East and Horn of Africa from 2008-2014.
  • Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, Head of Nutrition, Action Against Hunger UK: Alexandra has been working in the humanitarian field for the past 14 years, focusing on public health nutrition in diverse settings (emergency and development) in more than 20 countries across Africa and Asia. She has worked with various NGOs, such as MSF, IMC, and Save the Children, before joining Action Against Hunger UK. Alexandra manages a team of nutrition assessment specialists, is a member of the strategic advisory group of the Global Nutrition Cluster, and co-chairs the Global Technical Assistance Mechanism on Nutrition Information Systems.
  • Kate Golden, Senior Nutrition Advisor, Concern Worldwide: Kate has been working in nutrition programming and response in the developing world for roughly 15 years. She has worked in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Lebanon, and since 2006 she has supported nutrition programming, strategy development, and emergency response to about 15 countries across Africa and Asia as a global nutrition advisor. She is currently based in Beirut, Lebanon.

Featuring: Yeva Avakyan, Save the Children; Dr. Michelle Lokot, LSHTM; Alina Potts, Global Women’s Institute, George Washington University; Dorcas Acen, Save the Children East and Southern Africa; Cansu Aydin, CARE International Iraq ||

The next webinar in READY’s weekly series was COVID-19: Magnifying Gender Inequalities, held on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 0800-0900 EDT/1200-1300 GMT.

Summary: Yeva Avakyan from Save the Children led select panelists in a conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality. Initially labeled the “great equalizer,” the COVID-19 pandemic is anything but. Anchoring the discussion in the feminist perspective, speakers discussed how power hierarchies exacerbate inequalities during a crisis, including the “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence. Colleagues from East Africa and the Middle East shared examples of program adaptation in humanitarian contexts. The panelists also shared practical actions and discussed lessons learned in gender-equitable program response to COVID-19.

Moderator: Yeva Avakyan, Associate Vice-President, Gender Equality, Save the Children

Expert Speakers

  • Dr. Michelle Lokot, Research Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Alina Potts, Research Scientist, Global Women’s Institute, George Washington University
  • Dorcas Acen, Gender Equality and GBV Advisor, Save the Children East and Southern Africa
  • Cansu Aydin, Gender and Protection Manager, CARE International Iraq

The webinar recording accessible above will also be posted with follow-up questions and supplemental resources on READY’s discussion forum.

Tala*, 9 washing her hands. Image credit: GMU

Featuring: Dr. Les Roberts, Columbia University; Sian White, LSHTM; Caroline Muturi, Oxfam; Dr. Hani Taleb, Relief Experts Association

This webinar focused on community-level preventative behaviors for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in crisis-affected settings. In particular, speakers discussed handwashing promotion and physical distancing measures in these challenging settings. We began with a global overview of why these behaviors can be challenging to promote in crisis-affected settings and provided some practical solutions. We then heard two case studies sharing examples of current work and the challenges of implementing preventative programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.

Follow-up questions will be posted in READY’s discussion forum shortly.

Moderator: Dr. Les Roberts, Columbia University
Les Roberts is a Professor at Columbia University’s Program on Forced Migration and Health. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and completed a post-doctorate fellowship in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control’s Refugee Health Unit. Les was the Director of Health Policy at the International Rescue Committee from 1999-2003.  He has been involved in the fieldwork of over 50 mortality surveys in conflict settings including in DRC, Zimbabwe, CAR, and Iraq. His present research focuses on developing statistically representative community-based surveillance methodologies.

Expert Speakers

  • Sian White, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: Sian is a behavior change scientist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She specializes in WASH program design in crisis-affected settings. Sian recently helped set up the COIVD-19 Hygiene Hub, which is a free service to help actors in low- and middle-income countries rapidly share, design, and adapt evidence-based hygiene interventions to combat coronavirus. For the last four years, Sian has been the lead researcher on the Wash’Em project, which enables humanitarians to rapidly design context-adapted hygiene programs in crises. Sian holds a Master of Public Health degree in Developing Countries and is currently completing her Ph.D. based on research in Iraq and DRC.
  • Caroline Muturi, Oxfam: Caroline is part of Oxfam’s Global Humanitarian Support Personnel and specializes in WASH. She is currently supporting local teams in DR Congo, Bangladesh, and India for COVID-19 response. Caroline is a water engineer and holds a Master’s degree in water management. In recent years she has broadened her technical scope to cover behavior change communication and community engagement during outbreaks.
  • Dr. Hani Taleb, Relief Experts Association: Hani is the CEO of Relief Experts Association (UDER), a health-focused NGO operating in Northwest Syria (NWS). He has overseen emergency health programs since 2011 with the International Rescue Committee, Relief International, Medical Teams International, and other Syrian NGOs. He is a member of the COVID-19 health taskforce leading the response in NWS, and he is leading the Corona Awareness Team which is formed by organizations working on enhancing community-based preventive measures against COVID-19. He is a doctor in dental surgery and holds postgraduate diplomas in orthodontics, public health, and health management.

Featuring: Dr. Rohini Haar, UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Dr. Bhargavi Rao, Médecins Sans Frontières Operational Centre, Amsterdam; Rachael Cummings, Save the Children; Dr. Momen Mukhtar Abdalla, Al Shaab Hospial, Khartoum, Sudan

This webinar discussed the difficult but central issue of how to manage COVID-19 patients in humanitarian responses and low-income settings. Speakers discussed decision-making on which services to offer, dilemmas to consider, and a real-life scenario treating patients in Sudan. Follow-up discussion questions will be posted on READY’s discussion forum (registration required).

Moderator: Dr. Rohini Haar, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health
Dr. Haar is a lecturer in epidemiology at Berkeley Public Health, a research fellow at the Human Rights Center of the School of Law at UC Berkeley, and a practicing emergency physician. She received her MD from the University of Chicago and her MPH from the Columbia University School of Public Health. Her research focuses on health and human rights, as well as violence against healthcare workers in conflict settings. She has a longstanding association with Physicians for Human Rights.

Presenter: Dr. Bhargavi Rao, Médecins Sans Frontières Operational Centre, Amsterdam
Dr. Rao is currently the clinical focal point for COVID-19 response in Médecins Sans Frontières Operational Centre Amsterdam (MSF-OCA), but she is usually the Malaria and Infectious Diseases Specialist based at the Manson Unit (London).  She has worked on infectious disease programming across varied contexts including South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, India, and Venezuela as well as in the UK. She is a medical doctor with a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology from Imperial College London.

Expert Speakers

  • Rachael Cummings, Save the Children, London, UK: Ms. Cummings has worked for Save the Children for over 10 years, and is currently the Director of Humanitarian Public Health at Save the Children UK. Rachael has a nursing background and an MSC in Public Health in Developing Countries from LSHTM. Rachael is part of the Save the Children team supporting our colleagues in Cox’s Bazar to adapt and scale its work there in response to COVID-19.
  • Dr. Momen Mukhtar Abdalla, Al Shaab Hospital, Khartoum, Sudan: Dr. Momen is a consultant pulmonologist at Al Shaab Hospital in Khartoum and the head of the Sudanese Chest Physician Association. He is currently a member of the COVID-19 case management committee for the Federal Ministry of Health of Sudan.

Kaya Connect’s COVID-19 Learning Pathway aims to equip humanitarians, including local responders, with the knowledge they need to respond effectively to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The pathway includes:

  • Online technical capacity strengthening programs covering critical topics such as Public Health, Child Protection, and Gender/Equality.
  • Online soft skills and remote working capacity strengthening programs.
  • A library of key downloadable resources relating to working in the context of COVID-19, including sectoral guidelines, remote working guides, and resilience support. The topics covered are Program Guidance and Home Working, Public Health, WASH, MHPSS, Staff Resilience & Wellbeing, Child Protection, Education, Cash, and Gender.

The learning pathway is open to the public; free registration is required.

Save the Children’s COMPASS is a platform for storing standardized programming guidelines, including six related to COVID-19:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Preventative measures at the community level
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Case management at the community level
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Case management at the facility level
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Sexual and reproductive health
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Risk communication and community engagement (developed by READY)
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): Mental health and psychosocial support

The COMPASS platform has an associated app that allows offline access to modules, making it accessible to practitioners in locations with unreliable access (or no access) to the Internet.

WHO has an extensive collection of resources related to the COVID-2019 outbreak. In addition to information for the public about protective measures, questions and answers, travel advice, and daily situation reports, there is a wealth of specific technical and research information:

The Global Health Network has a “pop-up” knowledge hub at  As the GHN notes, “During emerging outbreaks it is vital to learn as much as possible to generate evidence on best practice for prevention, diagnosis and treatment and to facilitate effective preparedness and response for future outbreaks.” This up-to-the-minute collection includes a resource dashboard, WHO resources, regional response information, research findings, news, management and treatment, and surveillance.


EPI-WIN: “A key component of epidemic and pandemic preparedness is ensuring systems are in place for real-time information to flow from a trusted source to the people at risk.”

The World Health Organization’s “EPI-WIN” (WHO Information Network for Epidemics)  system puts reliable information at the world’s fingertips, fighting myth and misinformation that can contribute to panic and put lives in danger. The network covers common myths; information for health workers; effects on travel and tourism; and tailored advice for the general public, businesses and employers, and WHO member states.