WHO and Somalia Join Forces to Fortify Disease Outbreak Defenses


Mogadishu (AX) — Battling a gnarly humanitarian fiasco, Somalia’s on thin ice for disease flare-ups. To tackle this, the country’s rolled out the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system, marking a big leap in public health response.

Joining forces with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and WHO’s Somalia outpost, Somalia’s beefed up its disease surveillance game. The IDSR system pulls real-time health stats via District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2). This helps health professionals nab and analyze data to catch outbreaks early.

“With IDSR, the Ministry of Health and Human Services stays on top of public health incidents, shielding our communities by catching outbreaks fast,” noted Dr. Sahro Isse Mohamed, who heads the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Unit, Ministry of Health, Federal Government of Somalia.

The IDSR system’s been pivotal in spotting alerts for cholera, diphtheria, and pertussis since its launch. Trained health workers whip up weekly epidemiological bulletins, shared with stakeholders to steer decisions and pool resources. These maneuvers have slimmed down disease-caused sickness and deaths.

WHO Somalia pitched in to craft a three-year, step-by-step plan to roll out IDSR. This blueprint includes guidelines, standard procedures, and custom training for health workers. Phase one, wrapped in 2023, saw training for health folks from 371 out of 620 facilities, exceeding coverage targets. By year-end 2023, these facilities flagged 42 key conditions. Between weeks 3 and 13 of 2024, the tally of reporting facilities jumped to 409, with 80% of the trained spots regularly logging surveillance data.

Starting January 2024, the second phase hones in on bettering data quality, linking surveillance data with lab info, boosting data use at local tiers, and supervising IDSR through stakeholder meetings.

Brainstorming for IDSR kicked off in 2020. By 2021, Somalia had the system up and running. In 2022, they cooked up guidelines and training to gear up health workers. The last leg of the plan, to wrap in 2024, aims for a thorough approach to public surveillance of key diseases and response needs.

Somalia’s also gearing up for community-level event-based surveillance and strengthening public health labs for swift diagnosing of priority diseases. Rapid response squads will get trained to handle emergencies locally. They’re also plotting systems to monitor antimicrobial resistance and maternal and perinatal deaths.

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