Community-based disease surveillance is a crucial way to stop dangerous outbreaks before they spread. Community members are trained to spot disease among people and animals in their community and report to health authorities. For example, yellow eyes could be a case of yellow fever, a dangerous infectious disease.
During 2020, USAID’s Infectious Disease Detection and Surveillance (IDDS) project worked with Mali’s General Directorate of Health and Public Hygiene (DGSHP) to produce reporting tools and a community-based surveillance guide for Mali. Following a successful pilot phase in Kadiolo health district, IDDS supported DGSHP to expand this approach to Mali’s 75 health districts.
To date, IDDS has helped bring community-based surveillance to four additional health districts covering 2.3 million people in Kati, Kangaba, Sikasso, and Kolondiéba. Preliminary results from the first six months of the new Community-based surveillance system clearly demonstrate the importance of this approach with newly trained community health workers reporting more than 350 events leading to the detection of 16 cases of measles and one case of yellow fever.
“With the training received on Community-based surveillance and the communication tools I can conduct sensitization sessions in my community on diseases and events under surveillance so I can detect, and report suspected cases to my supervisors,” explains Yacouba Kone, a community health worker in the town of Niamala in southern Mali. Kone used his new skills to successfully detect a case of acute flaccid paralysis.
With USAID IDDS support, there are now five health districts actively conducting community-based surveillance with more to come. This effort not only helps to prevent outbreaks before they spread, but also contributes to the country’s response to a 2017 World Health Organization Joint External Evaluation recommendation for Mali: “adequate training of personnel from key sectors at all levels, including that of the community, so that they can fully play their roles in prevention, detection and response to all public health events.”