The Minister of Health, Antoine Elias officially handed over the "Final National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan" and "Final Comprehensive Need Lists Preparedness and Response for COVID-19" to PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell on 25 June 2020.
The guidance principles in the planned comprehensive national strategic preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic are to:
- slow down and stop transmission, prevent outbreaks and delay spread.
- provide optimized care for all patients especially the seriously ill
- minimize and mitigate the impact of the epidemic on the Surinamese health systems, social services and economic activity.
Suriname has taken clear measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic: closing of all schools, borders and international airport; physical distancing; a curfew from 20:00 – 06:00; mandatory government quarantine for repatriated citizens; contact tracing of all diagnosed cases and partial lockdown. Suriname has several advantages in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that are: a relative early and decisive response, a young population, not having a dense population. The challenges of Suriname are the protection of the large hinterland and monitoring the large border rivers in the East and the West.
Since it is expected to have 600 infected people, a list was developed with an estimated budget. In order to develop the needs list several aspects were taken into account: policy factors, leadership and organization of the response, communication, information and dissemination of information, border surveillance policy, policy of containing contamination, testing for COVID-19 and laboratory needs, quarantine and isolation policy, admitted patients, ICU patients and treatment of COVID-19, human resources, procurement and finance and budgeting.
PAHO provided technical guidance for the development of the plan and continues to provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response including the provision of PPE and test kits for diagnosis of the disease.