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ReachOut Blog

Human and animal Infectious disease outbreaks have devastating impacts on economies, societies and the public health system. The impact of disease outbreaks calls for preparedness initiatives for early detection and early response to prevent the occurrence of serious outbreaks that has devastating effects. Through Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program supported by USAID and IFRC; One health approach has been used to strengthen prevention, detection and response to human, animal and zoonotic diseases in Bomet, Narok, Tharaka Nithi and West Pokot Counties.

The program leveraging on One Health approach has established community-based surveillance (CBS) as a preparedness model – yielding early detection and action to halt outbreaks of animal, human and zoonotic diseases at the onset; averting the impact of diseases in communities. Community-Based Surveillance is an active process of community participation in DETECTING, REPORTING, RESPONDING TO and MONITORING health events in the community. The innovative process aims to enhance early detection of diseases outbreaks at the community level, take early action for disease control thus stopping outbreaks, monitor outbreaks through continued CBS and document disease patterns enhancing future better preparedness.

Since September 2019, 890 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and Community Disease Reporters (CDRs) from Health and Veterinary departments in Bomet, West Pokot, Narok and Tharaka Nithi counties have been trained on the use of simple community case definitions to detect potential epidemic alerts and report immediately by mobile applications. The receiving supervisor cross-checks the alert and enters a real-time database triggering response actions, which are conducted collaboratively through one health platform. Supervisors report to local authorities, integrating CBS alerts as notifications into national disease surveillance systems.

To improve health literacy on zoonotic diseases and other epidemic-prone diseases, CHVs and ADRs managed to offer health awareness through different platforms; They achieved 70,000 house visits, 769 school health activities, and 3568 group information sessions. During routine health promotion activities, the volunteers detect and report disease occurrences. Since the start of the implementation of CBS, 702 priority disease alerts were sent via SMS by CHVs and CDRs; out of the 702 alerts reported, 500 were animals alerts and 202 were human alerts. The average accuracy of volunteers to identify alerts matching community case definitions is 51% and their weekly reporting averages at 83% which indicates maintenance of the CBS system. Alerts were detected and notified to authorities within the targeted 24 hours at an average of 94%. Challenges experienced are related to securing free SMS channels for alerts, resources for timely response activities and direct integration of CBS to the mainstream national Disease surveillance systems in the Ministry of Health and Veterinary.

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