Covid shows value of health surveillance

Wednesday June 17 2020


By Simon J. Mone

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knees. Pay close attention to what the medical experts say and do what they tell us to do.
Covid-19 response has required us to start to do many things differently and perfectly or else we could face a big backlash. Experts are telling us to observe social distancing, wash hands with soap, use sanitisers and wear masks properly.

So, as the world comes up with prevention measures to check the spread and prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is really back to basic health science. In all these, one learning point cannot be taken lightly.

The spirit of the Covid-19 rapid response/surveillance teams has brought about something special. It has caused a feel-good spirit and the confidence of community members in their leaders. How the teams swiftly respond to suspected cases makes the difference.

There are relentless efforts being made to ensure that the prevalence of Covid-19 is kept very low. Then you wonder why such initiatives are not maintained in our community emergency health systems. Yes. It is costly to sustain such measures, but as a community, we can make this happen.

Given the bad publicity of the African health system, it is now time for us to have our say and learn to engage a stronger gear. I would strive to make contributions to help deliver it.

Keeping people healthy is key to achieving the country’s major goals.
We already have village health teams that play a vital role in the outcomes of communities’ sanitation, health and hygiene. The teams help to reduce the spread of diseases among communities. We only need to empower them more with the skills and the tools they require to enable them take care of health emergencies at village levels.


The teams already have a good starting point. There are information, education and communication. They can use mobile public address systems to communicate messages in languages that members of a community understand.

We know too well that there are times when epidemics strike, leading to severe suffering, especially to the most vulnerable people.

This breaches the village health resilience systems.

That is why I urge the relevant authorities to increase the capacity of Covid-19 surveillance. We should have a permanent community surveillance team to ensure that Ugandans get to medical facilities as fast as possible.

They also provide support for emergencies before referrals to a higher medical facility. But for the teams to be more effective, we should facilitate them.

Simon J. Mone,