Community-based early detection and alert system for emerging pathogens in remote populations
PI - Dr. Gary Kobinger

To this day, various communities in Central and West Africa remain isolated from larger urban centers or major trading routes. As such, cases of emerging pathogens in these populations would probably not be reported to local health authorities and thereby increase the risk of pathogen amplification, resulting in larger outbreaks and/or public health emergencies of international concern. Recent outbreaks have also made it clear that inadequate consideration of social, cultural, political, and religious factors in humanitarian responses has fatal consequences regarding the effectiveness and acceptability of response activities.

Working with partners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we aim to identify locally-driven solutions to effective surveillance and early detection of pathogens in a range of isolated communities. This approach would be complemented with the identification and establishment of trustful communication channels between select communities and the local health authorities and/or other responders that could be activated during a disease outbreak. This would be accomplished using a wide array of methods such as community-based research groups, interviews with key stakeholders, as well as participant observations.

Overall, this approach would create multi-level partnerships between remote communities and local and external health authorities, allowing surveillance plans to be supported and acted upon.

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