Facing the Future Together: Surveillance and Health Information Systems Strengthening in West and Central Africa
From February 14-16 TEPHINET and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) co-hosted the 6th Technical Workshop on Surveillance and Health Information Systems for the West and Central African region, bringing together approximately 41 participants from six countries in West and Central Africa. The three-day workshop, entitled “Facing the Future” included representatives from the ministries of human, animal and environmental health, national laboratories, National Institutes of Public Health (NPHI), and partners and multilateral organizations (e.g. World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, Africa CDC, African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), and the Health Information Systems Project of West and Central Africa) with expertise in epidemiology, information systems, medical and veterinary sciences, and laboratory science.
Participants aimed to identify solutions for the implementation of case-based surveillance across the region. The workshop specifically highlighted improving epidemiological intelligence for early detection and rapid response to diseases with epidemic potential and addressing the added challenges of COVID-19 in strengthening surveillance and health information systems. Topics covered included advances in District Health Information Systems 2 (DHIS2 ) deployment and integration; implementation of sustainable event-based surveillance; systematic coordination of border health surveillance; and operationalization of the One Health concept.
The workshop provided a platform for increased regional collaboration and a space for attendees to exchange ideas, lessons learned, and challenges in implementing surveillance and health information systems in their countries. CDC now plans to move this work into a virtual regional community of practice, providing a forum for more frequent exchange of ideas on strengthening disease surveillance. This would also allow for technical surveillance needs that require increased collaboration and technical assistance to be addressed. TEPHINET and CDC plan to work with participants to identify an engagement platform for the community of practice and identify other actors that should be involved.