U.S. CDC and IANPHI Host Health Surveillance Workshop in Senegal

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and IANPHI hosted the fourth annual Technical Workshop on Surveillance and Health Information Systems in the Western and Central African regions, which took place on 3-4 March 2020 in Dakar, Senegal.

Photo of the participants

The two-day meeting brought together public health professionals involved in public health information systems to share their experience on how surveillance data is used for public health action, and to develop strategies for improving epidemiologic intelligence for early outbreak detection and rapid response. Building global emergency response capacity is a priority for both the International Health Regulations (2005), an agreement between 196 countries to work together for global health security, and the Global Health Security Agenda, a partnership against global health threats.

Participants also discussed strategies for coordinating health system investments, methodologies for improving data quality and use across health domains, and plans for implementing information systems with existing or new tools and technologies.

This year’s meeting welcomed attendees from two new countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Guinea, as well as returning attendees from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal. In total 40 participants from seven African countries collaborated during the workshop. Representatives from the World Health Organization, HISP WCA (Health Information System Program West and Central Africa), the U.S CDC office in Senegal and U.S. CDC headquarters and IANPHI U.S office in Atlanta, also participated.

A representative from Mali, Dr. Ouassa Berthe, director of the Health Information System section at the Ministry of Health, presented his country’s implementation of the District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2), a free and open source health management data platform used by organizations and governments globally. Started in February 2016, the implementation was completed in December last year with nearly 100% of Malian health sites now equipped to use it, including all the hospitals. Mali’s public health professionals reported improvements in data management and data quality thanks to DHIS2, but also some challenges such as the quality of internet bandwidth and continuity in funding for the project. 

Participants from DRC, Dr. Prosper Kabambi, division director at the Inspection department for Fisheries and Livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, and Mathias Mossoko, director of the Epidemiological Surveillance Database office at the Ministry of Health, presented their work on the identification of zoonoses, diseases or infections that are naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans, and an assessment of the zoonoses surveillance following a One Health approach with experts from human, animal and environmental health. Six zoonoses were selected and three zoonotic surveillance assessment reports were published by the ministry for Fisheries and Livestock, the Congolese institute for Nature Preservation and the ministry for Environment and Sustainable Development. They are hoping this will help the animal health surveillance system to catch up to the human one and will lead to the implementation of an environment surveillance system.

Dr. Issaka Yameogo, director of the Epidemiological Surveillance Department at the Ministry of Health in Burkina Faso, presented his country’s event-based surveillance efforts. A community-based approach has been adopted progressively since 2017, using trained community health agents. This new strategy is expanding disease surveillance capabilities and adopting the One Health approach enabling different ministries to coordinate in order to detect potential epidemics among humans and animals. 160 events have been notified so far, including ten in 2017, 73 in 2018 and 77 in 2019. In July 2018, Burkina Faso created a National Public Health Institute with the support of IANPHI.

A participant from Cameroon, Dr. Modeste Gatcho a public health physician at the Ministry of Public Health, commented: “The Dakar workshop on surveillance and information systems was an opportunity for us to learn a lot thanks to the presentations that were made and especially to the sharing of experience with the different countries present and the CDC staff. I look forward to such initiatives being perpetuated for better coordination of epidemiological surveillance at the global level.”

This article was also published in French.

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