The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (US CDC) is set to pioneer the institutionalization of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) course in preservice curricular of health institutions in Liberia. This strategy is a part of the new directive by WHO AFRO for 2020/2030 that aims to revitalize and strengthen IDSR performance to ensure the sustainability of national public health surveillance and response among member states.
The one-day orientation workshop held at the Millennium Guest House in Monrovia to launch the process was followed by a week-long engagement meeting with training institutions academic staff and boards. About 75 participants from the ministry of health, licensing boards, and 22 health training institutions; including medical, nursing and midwifery, laboratory, environmental health, para-medical, public health, epidemiology as well as faculties, course content developers and administrators.
Highly skilled human resources for health are critical for improving health security. However, while current health training curricula focus mainly on clinical and technical skills, the traditional in-service training for surveillance has not been effective to build and sustain national capacity. In July 2019, KOICA approved support for Liberia to incorporate IDSR training into pre-service curricular and as part of this process, the country with support from WHO has set in motion a roadmap for implementing this strategy.
Launching the workshop, Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Director General ai NPHIL, in his remarks, highlighted the current factors contributing to late detection of cases and reporting in Liberia; specifically, the low index of suspicion and misdiagnosis of cases with priority diseases due to underutilization of case definitions among health workers.
Additionally, Dr William Desmond, Country Director-Liberia, US CDC emphasized the rationale of institutionalizing IDSR in Liberia given the high attrition rates of health workers as well as the findings from a recent survey in Montserrado County that showed low IDSR knowledge and familiarilisation among health workers.
By the close of the meeting the strategy had been well embraced and a taskforce elected to champion the succeeding advocacy campaigns and implementation process. Furthermore, the participants made recommendations to ensure successful gains which included close collaboration with the five licensing boards in charge of the training curricular of the different schools, and a survey of the existing curricular across the different training schools to ensure harmonization during the curriculum review process.
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Epi-Surveillance/IDSR Team Lead
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