The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlighted the need for greater investments in public health infrastructure in the region to detect, monitor, and respond to diseases and other public health threats. This included enhancement of Health Information Systems (HIS), particularly around linking surveillance and laboratory data, for improved detection of, and response to, infectious disease outbreaks.
TEPHINET recently partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Global Epidemiology, Laboratory, and Surveillance Branch on a project to enhance and strengthen information systems that link surveillance and laboratory data in West Africa. CDC has been working in this area for a number of years, and TEPHINET recently received funding to support this work.
From February to April of this year, TEPHINET contracted with consultants in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and Cameroon to map and document HIS and surveillance resources in each country. Regional consultants were also contracted to serve as project coordinators and technical experts to synthesize country information into a situational assessment of HIS across the region.
In May 2021, TEPHINET helped organize the 5th Technical Workshop on Surveillance and Health Information Systems for the West African region. The workshop built upon past surveillance and health information workshops in West Africa that were initiated in 2016 and last convened in March 2020. During the three-day virtual event HIS stakeholders reviewed the aforementioned country and region-specific situational assessments and worked to develop country-level action plans for the implementation of case-based surveillance. Participants emphasized the need to improve epidemiological intelligence for early detection and rapid response to diseases with epidemic potential. Attention was also placed on addressing the added challenges of COVID-19 in strengthening surveillance and health information systems, which are a priority for the International Health Regulations (IHR) of 2005 as well as the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).
Approximately 80 individuals participated in the workshop, which was moderated by experts from CDC and TEPHINET's project coordinator Mahamadou Dao. Attendees represented ministries of human, animal and environmental health, national laboratories, National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs) and partners and multilateral organizations from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal.