Analytical summary - Epidemic and pandemic-prone diseases
The Gambia, like the rest of the world, is confronted with emerging and re-emerging potential epidemic diseases that may increase disease burden with their economic implications.
In the absence of modern disease forecasting equipment, the Gambia depends on a robust integrated surveillance system with capacity to timely and adequately respond to disease epidemics/outbreaks and public health events of national and international concern.
Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response guidelines recommend two types of thresholds: an alert threshold and an epidemic threshold. The thresholds described in these guidelines represent the continuum of recommended practices and are used to describe where action is recommended.
Outbreaks and unusual events are investigated and verified by available rapid response teams at all levels prior to mandatory notification to the concerned parties. However, it is noted that the country resource needs, both human and material, are deficient at the level of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Therefore, epidemic readiness is translated into establishment of action-oriented regional and local community preparedness, management and response committees who are guided by policies and guidelines. Laboratory surveillance is supported by regional laboratories in the neighbouring countries due to capacity limitations.
Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response is currently facing challenges due to limited resources to expand the health system, health systems reforms, and infrastructural and human development. The change in the data collection tool and type of health management information system software is posing a challenge regarding timeliness of reporting, especially at the facility and regional levels. Other disease control programme-specific software has aggravated the situation, paving a way for vertical reporting systems.
With the country at the verge of conducting a review of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response test guidelines with the support of technical assistance in early 2012, International Health Regulations synergy will obviously undergo a change of concept and also serve as the driving force for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response.
Implementation of the International Health Regulations started after their inclusion into Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response in July 2008. The national core capacity requirement for implementation has been assessed with WHO financial and technical support in September 2011.
A draft assessment and national plan of action were at the validation and finalization stage in early 2012.
- ↑ Integrated disease surveillance, the Gambia. Banjul, Government of the Gambia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Disease Control Unit, 2008