The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world profoundly and has had far-reaching consequences beyond health and disease outcomes in populations. Recognizing this pandemic’s complex, multi-faceted nature, READY has developed an integrated response framework to minimize COVID-19 transmission in vulnerable communities. By supporting the adherence to two selected non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) through integrated multi-sectoral, holistic humanitarian services and designing an integrated response framework around specific NPIs, the framework promotes an integrated lens for outbreak readiness and response. This framework enables us to accomplish greater multi-sector cohesiveness, implement holistic service models, improve communications and coordination among various actors, maximize limited resources, minimize possible trade-offs, and promote more efficient ways of working.
While it is recommended that an effective COVID-19 response includes a comprehensive set of mitigation and containment interventions, this framework focuses primarily on enabling holistic services around a sub-set of common interventions: 1) Quarantine and isolation in the household, and 2) Quarantine Facilities and Community Isolation Centers. Quarantine and isolation are commonly used by national and local officials to reduce disease transmission. For example, to reduce transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals suspected or confirmed for COVID-19 should quarantine or isolate for up to two weeks. Asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild to moderate symptoms can isolate at home. They may have to do so with household members who are also encouraged to quarantine. In low-resource settings, it is challenging to ensure these isolated and/or quarantined households have sufficient access to basic needs such as food and water, other essential services, and information. In particular, these households need to be protected from any increased vulnerabilities caused or made worse by isolation. Many of these services may be missing or delivered through vertical sectoral programming, which aligns funds, benchmarks, and technical expertise solely to one technical area. While recognizing that this framework does not include the full menu of possible mitigation and containment measures, its goal is to guide detailed planning and implementation around quarantine and isolation with hopes to expand and consider other interventions in the future iterations.
The framework, through desk research and consultations, has adapted several tools and approaches from agencies such as the WHO, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP), and from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and academic institutions such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University.
This framework is intended for technical experts, country directors, program directors, program managers, and program staff of national and international NGOs to guide their organization’s strategy, proposal development, program implementation, and operational activities for the COVID-19 emergency response. By promoting holistic support to individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (who have been quarantined or isolated either in their households or at voluntary or involuntary facilities/centers), the framework aims to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities through improved adherence to the two selected non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs).
The framework builds on a foundation of key principles and entry points for effective multi-sectoral integrated programming to accomplish this goal. These entry points are organized along the program cycle (Strategic Leadership and Coordination, Planning, Proposal Development & Project Design, Program Implementation, and Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL)). The design guides the process for enabling multiple sectors and cross-cutting areas to contribute to the same goals and objectives. The framework then aligns each sector, with considerations from the cross-cutting areas, to enable relevant activities and services to contribute to these common goals and objectives.
The framework brings together existing sector-specific technical and operational guidelines that have been developed by the humanitarian community, including guidelines from Health [Community Health Programming; Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH); and Mental Health and Psychological Support (MHPSS); Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH); Protection (Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence); Nutrition; and Food Security.
Cross-cutting themes relevant to all sectors need to be kept at the forefront of how outbreak responses are designed and implemented. These themes include Social and Behavior Change (SBC), specifically through Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), age, gender, ability, ethics, and OneHealth.
 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name given to the 2019 novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is the name given to the disease associated with the virus. To appeal to a wider audience, including non-health and entry-level program staff, this document will refer to programming in COVID-19.