Public Servants should be ready to adapt to COVID


All public services around the Pacific region including Samoa needs to be resilient, agile and ready to adapt as the circumstances of Covid unfold.

These are comments rendered by Public Service Commission Chair, Lauano Vaosa Epa, during the recent World Bank Pacific Public Services COVID – 19, Adaptability Seminar held virtually.

A statement published on the PSC website indicated that Samoa had two years to prepare for community transmission.

The seminar in which Lauano spoke was part of the Pacific Public Services & COVID-19 Series organized by the World Bank and this was the second time Samoa was invited to share its experience in leading the public service during COVID-19.

The session was well attended by various countries from

the Pacific region, including Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Tuvalu and others.

The webinars provided a platform for the Pacific Island countries to learn best practices from each other, particularly in maintaining a balance between continuing service delivery and keeping employees safe during the pandemic.

The aim of the seminar looked at three key areas: what are the key lessons learnt in managing public services during the crisis; what will we do differently, in light of these lessons and how can we strengthen our preparedness and resilience?

Lauano said the PSC had put in place guidelines as part of its response and preparations for the pandemic, which were guided by the collaborative efforts led by the Ministry of Health, Disaster Advisory Council, the National Emergency Operation Center, as well as the high-level direction of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet.

“Samoa was seeing a rather quick impact, especially on the frontline staff, who’ve tested positive for COVID, however, Samoa has had two years to prepare for the possibility of community transmission, and the country’s response efforts were still guided by the National Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan 2020 – 2025, as well as up to date information relating to the Pandemic issued by the World Health Organization.”

Lauano stated the PSC had to constantly remind agencies that a lockdown does not mean an instant holiday for public servants.

“It just means you have to make other arrangements to work from home or from a secure and safe location. There are special provisions for those classified as High Risk, where they may be allowed to work from home.

“We’ve also had to develop templates to help employees report from home and help the employer hold their staff accountable. Of course, there is always a certain degree of flexibility.

“In addition, we’ve also included a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Form to help employers develop their lists of High-Risk Employees.

“This was modelled against guidance we got from the World Health Organization. And of course, these continue to evolve so we’ve also had to try and adapt.”