When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, the organizations that work with our city’s most vulnerable knew immediately that the unfolding crisis would present unique challenges, and that collaboration would be required to continue to offer services and support safely. That knowledge, plus the impressive pre-existing organizational capacity in the city catalyzed an unprecedented community response. That response, dubbed: The Saskatoon Inter-Agency Response to COVID-19 (Inter-Agency Response) is a group of 50+ organizations including community-based organizations (CBOs) providing front-line services and representatives of government agencies. Acting quickly and efficiently, the Inter-Agency Response developed a COVID-19 Vulnerable Sector strategy, charting a path of key supports on priority areas of vulnerability.
The Division of Social Accountability has been a supporter and member of Saskatoon’s Inter-Agency response since the COVID lockdown began in March. As is fitting of the mandate of Socially accountability of faculties of medicine, our long history of working closely with community agencies allowed us to quickly mobilize in response to the needs of community partners in this time of crisis. Our response included contribution to the funding of the service HUBS run by CBOs, active engagement with the communications and health promotion efforts, and membership, staffing and input into the data management. In that latter capacity, we are pleased to have been funders and authors of the interim Report on COVID-19 Vulnerable Sector Response in Saskatoon March-May 2020 which outlines the activities that have informed and directed the responses to date.
The Division of Social Accountability in keeping aligned with our defined priority ‘address the priority health concerns of the communities the college is mandated to serve, incorporating authentic community engagement and mutually beneficial partnerships. Focus on equity and community engagement by interweaving social accountability throughout the college’s operations.” we are committed to participating in the response regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic through maintaining a focus on the foundation of health equity as the core to discussion.
As we have witnessed through historical and current crises, vulnerabilities are both exacerbated and highlighted by health, economical, and conflict disruptions. Which inevitably results in the further victimization of vulnerable people. We believe that we are uniquely positioned to contribute to the creation, distribution and distillation of knowledge with health equity and community engagement as keystones. It is important to look beyond the primarily biomedical approach to public health, and consider the social implications not only the disease, but on the outcomes of policies, restrictions, and community efforts.
Communities across the province have rallied together to raise questions and collaborate on new ways of working the wake of the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Communities are responding, to both fill the gaps facing our communities, or to strengthen the relationships and networks already making a difference. We have witnessed generous acts of solidarity, and a coming together across distances, disciplines, and backgrounds. We would like to be instrumental in sharing their knowledge, their success and broadening our understanding of how to move forward from this in a more inclusive and equitable way.
Please join us by participating with us in this journey.