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Pragmatic Solidarity: Conducting a Participatory, Baseline Assessment of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) and Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) in Maryland County, Liberia
Maryland County, located in southeastern Liberia, is characterized by extreme poverty, limited infrastructure, and geographic isolation. The county has a history of disease outbreaks and remains particularly vulnerable to Pertussis, Measles, and viral hemorrhagic diseases including Ebola. This project sought to evaluate the overall functionality of IDSR and EPR in Maryland County at all levels of the health system: county, district, health facility, and community. The findings are being incorporated into a 12-month work plan that empowers the CHT to respond to identified gaps and build a resilient, responsive IDSR system. A training session was conducted for eight local data collectors and two data clerks to conduct the assessment. Data was collected in Maryland County from November 26th to December 6th, 2018 by the CHT and Partners In Health (PIH) with support from GIZ. 82 persons were interviewed in this participatory, baseline assessment covering all 25 health facilities across 6 county health districts. The baseline survey found that Maryland has an established decentralized surveillance system comprised of surveillance officers, focal persons, and community health workers at each level. Significant gaps were identified, including a lack of office space, supplies, and an updated EPR plan. The rapid response team and community event-based surveillance system were reported to be poorly functioning, and there were inadequate training and simulation exercises. The findings imply there are specific gaps that can be resolved by supporting the Maryland CHT to conduct trainings and simulations, provide mentorship, and engage communities in strengthening disease surveillance at all levels.