EPIDEMIOLOGY UNIT

In recognition of the importance of disease surveillance and notification, Nigeria and other member States in the WHO African Region endorsed the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response strategy at the 48th Regional Committee meeting held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in September 1998. Nigeria has embraced the new IDSR strategy and has also introduced it in all the States of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This strategy will integrate multiple surveillance systems so that personnel and other resources can be used more efficiently and effectively. A functional disease surveillance system will equip health workers to set priorities, plan interventions, mobilize and allocate resources and provide early detection and response to disease outbreaks.

Forty (plus one) diseases of public health are currently designated for routine (monthly) notification out of which ten epidemic prone diseases were selected for immediate reporting. Standard reporting forms (DSN 001 for immediate reporting, and DSN 002 for monthly routine reporting) were also introduced. The methodology for information flow between the various levels was also prescribed. It is important to note that following the recent review of the notifiable diseases in the country non- communicable diseases, such as Diabetic Mellitus and Hypertension, have now been added.

MANAGEMENT AND COORDINATION

The Epidemiology Unit is headed by the Deputy Director Public Health/State epidemiologist, who oversees the overall day to day operations of the unit. The State Epidemiologist plays a very important role in the coordination and management of all disease control programs of the Department.

In addition the Epid Unit is the Secretariat of the State Epidemic Preparedness and Response (EPR) Committee. The committee is multi-sectoral in composition with representation drawn from relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Organizations and Associations. The Committee is headed by the Honorable Commissioner of Health while the State Epidemiologist is the Secretary.

PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATION

To undertake effective disease surveillance, notification and response activities the Unit works in partnership with various partners and stakeholders. Some of the key partners are:

  • The Federal Ministry of Health whom we share our data with on weekly and monthly basis
  • The PHCMB who are responsible for generating all health data from their facilities.
  • The WHO which support us in all aspects of the unit’s activities.
  • Other programs and units of the Ministry

Epidemiology unit is also the secretariat of the State EPR Committee, which is a multi-sectoral with membership drawn from relevant ministries, parastatals

PRIORITY AND HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITIES

Surveillance
Disease surveillance is the single most important activity for outbreak preparedness and response. In the absence of surveillance, it is impossible to track progress. Timely notification allows public health to take actions to limit the spread of disease. It is of little importance to investigate reported cases if most of the cases are never reported. Everything that needs to be done to enhance surveillance needs to be done.

Coordinating Outbreak Preparedness and Response
For effective management of health emergencies such as epidemics, it is mandatory for each tier of Government in the country to establish an Epidemic Preparedness and Response committee. In Kano State the committee has been established at State and in all the 44 LGAs of the State. The functionality of the committee at the LGA level has remained a major challenge in the effort to control the frequent occurrence of outbreaks in the State.

Massive Public Enlightenment Campaign
It is important to aggressively embark on massive public enlightenment campaign in the State