South Sudan: Strengthening Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response in South Sudan to Save Lives

Juba, 25 October 2019: To improve reporting performance and capacity to detect outbreaks, South Sudan reviewed and adapted the Third Edition of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) guidelines for timely detection and prompt response to disease outbreaks and public health risks.

With Support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the South Sudan Ministry of Health intends to train a pool of national master trainers on the updated guidelines. The master trainers will then facilitate the cascade rollout to the state, county, health facility, and county level and will be reinforced by regular technical support supervision to the technical officers at all levels.

The revised and adapted IDSR guidelines contain explicit guidance to public health workers at national, state, county, health facility, and community level on routine reporting of diseases from the health facilities; the reporting of public health risks from informal sources; strengthening community surveillance; establishing cross border surveillance; the use of new information technologies to establish electronic surveillance systems; guidance on using Public Health Emergency Operations Centers (PHEOC) to improve coordination of public health emergencies; and guidelines on establishing IDSR in complex emergencies.

"Given South Sudan's increased vulnerability to disease outbreaks, strengthening national disease surveillance, response and control systems is crucial for early detection and rapid containment of major disease outbreaks to help reduce needless illnesses and deaths," said Dr Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health in South Sudan. "In 2019, measles, a vaccine preventable disease, caused outbreaks in at least 16 counties and four internally displaced people's (IDP) camps where at least 3 477 cases including 23 deaths were reported" he added.

"The implementation and strengthening of disease surveillance by adopting and implementing the IDSR strategy at all levels is one of the key priorities of WHO in South Sudan", said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative in South Sudan. "The system has been instrumental in identifying and responding to disease outbreaks and has helped to target interventions to prevent excess illnesses and death," Dr Olu said."

With Support from WHO, the Ministry of Health continued making progress towards building a robust national disease surveillance system. In 2019, the IDSR system helped in identifying, investigating and responding to 3,574 alerts, including outbreaks of measles, malaria among others from multiple locations.

Since 2006, South Sudan has implemented the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy. The strategy offers a framework for attaining the IHR (2005) core capacity requirements to strengthen the national disease surveillance system. The strategy has been rolled out to all the states and counties countrywide to support surveillance for at least 26 priority disease and several lessons have accrued over years of implementation. These lessons informed the revision of the IDSR guidelines to fit current context and emerging disease trends.

The implementation of IDSR and the early warning alert and response network (EWARN) is supported by USAID and ECHO.

Notes to editors:

Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) is; a strategy adopted by WHO AFRO member states for; implementing comprehensive public health surveillance and response systems for priority diseases, conditions and events at all levels of health systems in African countries. The strategy aims to integrate multiple surveillance systems, and link surveillance and laboratory data to guide public health decisions with the county as the center of implementation.

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