Strengthening Event-Based Surveillance for Improved COVID-19 Detection in Cameroon

Thomas Aiken, Communications Coordinator

The Cameroon Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) conducts a workshop for its second FETP-Frontline cohort in the Littoral Region on September 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Cameroon FETP)


Because serious public health risks often bypass health care providers and structured channels for reporting incidents to health officials, it is important to have robust event-based surveillance (EBS) systems in place to collect unstructured, non-standardized disease data, particularly in remote communities. However, EBS can only be effective if participants understand how and when to detect and report these disease signals (or “events”).

In Cameroon, the Ministry of Public Health is dedicated to enhancing and better integrating EBS activities within the country’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) plan. The TEPHINET Secretariat has been providing funding and logistical support to the Cameroon Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), via the Care and Health Program (CHP), to facilitate training activities and call center operations in order to strengthen EBS in the South and Littoral Regions of Cameroon. 

The Cameroon FETP has helped to develop and validate a list of priority COVID-19 signals for the community and hospitals. The FETP has also trained 1,800 community health workers to detect and raise awareness of these signals among the general public. 

Across the South and Littoral Regions, the FETP has been instrumental in setting up two call centers to receive reports of COVID-19 cases and training more than 30 call center operators on EBS. In addition, the program has conducted COVID-19 risk assessments in all health districts and sensitized 40 local officials (including mayors, sub-division officers, and their deputies) and key informants on COVID-19.