Investigation of a Respiratory Disease during the Emergence of COVID-19 in the Niassa Province, Mozambique

DionĂ­sia Balate, Resident, Mozambique Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program

Photo courtesy of DionĂ­sia Balate


As a resident of the fifth cohort of the Mozambique Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), I am part of the COVID-19 rapid response team. In addition to the emergency response to COVID-19, we confirmed an increase in cases and transmission of respiratory disease between April and May 2020 in Niassa Province. Due to this epidemiological concern, I had the opportunity to support case investigation by traveling to Niassa for my first field experience. We joined the provincial team and conducted active surveillance, searching for new cases in communities that faced difficulties with access routes due to being 25 kilometers away from the health unit. This activity allowed us to identify a new confirmed case in a child who was not yet listed for follow-up.

A second positive case was identified one month ago, which was a child who had not yet had any treatment. We contacted the health unit so that they could provide treatment. The next step was to locate and check the vaccination status of the closest contacts to the cases, which made it evident that all of their contacts had been vaccinated.

My experience of participating in an investigation enabled me to become more knowledgeable as an FELTP resident. It helped me to understand the challenges and barriers to access that the provinces face while conducting surveillance for respiratory disease transmission, because the communities are very remote in relation to the health units. I appreciate the FELTP for coordinating this opportunity.