At the beginning of the PHE Preparedness Initiative, the central provinces of Kasai-Oriental and Sankuru were experiencing a cholera outbreak, with over 1,000 cases and nearly 100 deaths attributed to the disease in the first four months. CARE worked to enhance the country’s existing surveillance system with community-based surveillance (CBS), utilizing existing CARE program platforms and engagement approaches at the community level. Volunteers from the community were recruited and trained to act as liaisons between the health system and the community. As CBS focal points, these individuals support efforts for disease prevention and early detection to reduce the spread of transmission and enable faster responses, working alongside community health workers, facility-based health workers, and health district staff.
CBS focal points provide education on good hygiene practices and promote the use of chloramine tablets for water purification. They also make routine home visits to check on the health of families in their area. Any suspected adverse public health events they find (including a community-defined description of cholera) are reported back to the head nurse at the local health facility, who begins an investigation and ensures it is reported to the health district office.