PROTECH – Pandemic Rapid-response Optimization To Enhance Community-resilience and Health
Global travel and trade have led to the spread of contagious diseases around the world, or pandemics. News about emerging pandemics often bring out fear and anxiety in the public. Recent public response to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak reflected blame, fear, and racism against the Chinese communities. We have learned during the 2003 SARS crisis in Toronto that stigma could lead to crushing harm on the health, psychological, social, and economic well-being of the affected communities. In response to the potential negative impacts of COVID‑19 on the Chinese communities, our team proposes a cutting-edge model – Pandemic Rapid-response Optimization To Enhance Community-Resilience and Health (PROTECH) that consists of three interrelated components: (1) an online resource hub that provides accurate and timely information on COVID-19, and practical ways to cope with fear and anxiety; (2) an online group training with live video meeting to reduce stigma/stress and promote resilience among affected groups (individuals tested positive; healthcare providers experiencing stress or burnout, community leaders); and (3) a framework that sustains the first two components and aligns people, processes, and resources together. Our team includes clinicians, researchers, and leaders from diverse public, arts, and business sectors. We will also reach out to key opinion leaders and community influencers to mobilize the Chinese and other affected communities. We will use focus groups, surveys, and note-taking on project activities to examine the effectiveness of PROTECH in reducing stress and stigma, and promoting collective resilience, or how to best support the affected groups to keep well despite the challenges. Finally, the PROTECH model can be adapted and used in different communities across Canada and other countries for future pandemic outbreaks.