The Population Council has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last couple of weeks with action to ensure that our staff and in turn their families, and the communities where we work, stay safe and well.
Our staff around the world, whose work informs important policies and programs that improve lives, are our biggest asset. And as such, we have taken the following necessary steps to mitigate risks:
- We suspended international business travel and are discouraging domestic travel in countries where we work;
- We are encouraging leaders in our respective offices to take appropriate decisions based on local circumstances as they evolve;
- We have closed our U.S. offices and are moving staff in the U.S., and around the world, to remote working while also increasing flexible working options to maintain business continuity.
At the same time, we remain committed to our mission and the high-quality research we are known for, so we are taking necessary steps to ensure that our important work continues. Our biomedical research and social and behavioral science research that can be done without human contact (data analysis, syntheses of literature, technical assistance to partners, etc.) is continuing. We also continue efforts to ensure that our evidence and insights are shared with stakeholders (preparation of publications, donor reports, proposal writing, budget development and monitoring, etc.). However, out of an abundance of caution for the most vulnerable populations with whom we work, we have suspended person-to-person research activities for the time being – including survey interviews, community meetings and dissemination events – pending further guidance from our Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Senior management are meeting regularly to determine how we can adapt our work and our research in this uncertain environment. And in the last week, or so, CEOs in our sector (the US-based SRHR NGOs) have had regular contact sharing advice and guidance about the steps we are each taking. We will continue to reflect on and respond to what lies ahead and thank you for your continued support.