Dr. Sogoba serving as a voice for community health at the highest levels

Dr. Sogoba serving as a voice for community health at the highest levels

At the end of April, Dr. Sogoba attended a weeklong workshop in Fana. It was the latest meeting for the development of the national plan for the extension of community-based epidemiological surveillance (SEBAC). Dr. Sogoba, the director of our Health Department, is representing the needs of community health systems in this national policy process, alongside international NGOs and regional and national health authorities.

Dr. Sogoba has been helping to ensure that the surveillance priorities and strategies being developed are feasible and realistic for health workers, health centers, and partners on the ground. He is relying on our experience during both the Ebola outbreak, and the health security and systems strengthening efforts that followed it, as well as our participatory quality improvement and community health worker programs.

What is community-based epidemiological surveillance?

The Direction Générale de la Santé et de l’Hygiène Publique (DGSHP) explains why an implementation guide for SEBAC is so important :

characterized by the increasing globalization of emergencies and public health events, the evolution of diseases at the epidemiological level underline the importance of community monitoring in order to move quickly from detection to confirmation and response.

The emergence and earliest detection of infectious diseases – like Ebola or COVID-19 – often occur at the community level. The quicker that the community health system can identify and respond, the quicker an outbreak can be contained, and communities can stay safe. A strong response requires a variety of systems to be strengthened, including a trained health workforce, decentralized and accessible laboratory capacity, and clear response protocols at the local, regional and national levels.

A long-term planning process

At the invitation of the DGSHP, Mali Health has been participating as a technical partner in the development of the national SEBAC guide since 2019. First, a draft of the guide was developed at a workshop in Bamako. It was then tested in the Kadiolo health district, in Sikasso region.

At a workshop in Bamako at the end of 2019, Dr. Sogoba had the chance to present our approach to community health to the entire planning group. He also shared our experiences supporting community health partners during the Ebola outbreak and with the following Djomi project, which was a part of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). We are honored by the opportunity to represent the needs of the community health system, and our efforts to support it, in this national process.

The objective of this latest workshop in Fana was to analyze results from the test in Kadiolo district and to develop a final extension plan. The next step is to submit that final plan to the DGSHP for validation and approval, and to identify a donor to finance the extension of the surveillance program. If a donor can be identified, the entire process of disseminating and implementing the plan in all regions of Mali will take 5 years.

Meeting of SEBAC participants in Fana