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Operation Seek and Save gets Underway

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, February 4, 2021

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021.

An ambitious national survey to gather health-related data across Barbados got underway yesterday, as one of the Government of Barbados’ latest initiatives to halt the spread of Covid-19. The field operation involves hundreds of university students along with Barbados Defence Force, public transport and other state representatives providing critical logistical support.

Equipped with adequate personal protective equipment, which was distributed following intensive training, the approximately 360 students of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus began visiting Barbadian communities island-wide to conduct brief interviews as part of a data-gathering exercise.

They were put into groups that would visit each constituency over the next 11 days while observing the strictest protocols to protect themselves and interviewees. The students have been instructed not to enter homes and to conduct the survey from the recommended six feet distance.

Ahead of the rollout, the screened volunteers were provided with field kits that included hand sanitizers, face masksand faceshields.

They were also required to do a test run on the smart phone or tablet on which the critical information on Covid-19 and dengue fever would be imputed.

This information will be used by government to formulate public health intervention strategies as a matter of urgency.

Programme Coordinator of the M.Sc. in Management, Dr. Dion Greenidge who is marshalling the data gathering process of The University of the West Indies-Government of Barbados Covid-19 Evaluation and Testing Project, more familiarly known as Operation Seek and Save, stated:

“Our students have been trained and completed what we call CITI training (in research ethics and compliance), which emphasizes the ethical aspect of this exercise, and how to handle particular kinds of data because confidentiality is very important,” he said.

“The students would have also signed confidentiality clauses to say that they will protect any information that they collect. We will also stress in the field that persons have the right not to answer so while we would prefer their cooperation, responses are not mandatory.”

Dr. Greenidge noted that the rollout went off without any major glitches and that each student volunteer group is being accompanied by at least one member of the BDF lending a reassuring presence.

“All the logistics are working as planned and that’s testimony to the hard work of individuals. We have a team ofM.Sc.Business Analytics students which has been working around the clock from Monday on the logistics. Those students actually built the system themselves in the last five days or so and tested it.”

The entire project is coordinated by UWI staffer Lieutenant Colonel Junior Brown with oversight from Deputy principal Winston Moore and assistance from a team of university employees.

The project has generated a high level of interest among students with over 900 indicating willingness to participate at the outset and more than 400 selected for training.


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