Community engagement is an essential tool for low-income countries to detect local disease outbreaks and find ways to prevent them from developing into epidemics, according to a scholarly paper authored by a professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health.
Infectious diseases can quickly spread around the globe. To combat these threats, the U.S. government and other national governments have partnered with international non-governmental organizations and other public and private stakeholders to establish the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). However, the GHSA does not address ways to engage local communities in efforts to detect emerging disease threats, educating the local population and other activities that could be especially important in lower-income countries that do not have strong public health systems or the ability to respond quickly to emerging outbreaks.
The article titled “Global Health Security Agenda Implementation: A Case For Community Engagement” discusses the importance of community engagement and offers examples of how such efforts have helped in identifying and containing disease outbreaks such as the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
The lead author of the paper, published in the journal Health Security, is Dr. Elizabeth Armstrong-Mensah, clinical assistant professor at the School of Public Health. The study’s co-author is Dr. Serigne M. Ndiaye, an epidemiologist with the Global Health Protection Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Ultimately, the capacity to contain a disease or other public health threat at its source may rely heavily on community-level leaders, workers, and volunteers who have the knowledge to recognize and communicate suspicious events to public health surveillance officers and other officials who can confirm and contain an outbreak,” the authors wrote.