The Uganda Ministry of Health (MOH) in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and with support from the CDC Global Immunization Division’s Polio Eradication Branch has deployed surveillance teams to various districts to implement an integrated active case search for both COVID-19 and Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) at health facilities and high risk communities in Uganda.
Dr Kevin Mugenyi, an Epidemiologist and the Regional supervisor for the COVID-19/AFP surveillance in Kyotera District, in the southern part of the Central Region of Uganda, explained that active search for COVID-19 includes review of all cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses like pneumonia occurring within two weeks of the facility visit by surveillance teams in May and June 2020, while AFP surveillance would include conducting active search in health facilities for diagnoses inferring paralysis in children 15 years and below. He mentioned that active surveillance for wild poliovirus through reporting and laboratory investigation of all cases of acute flaccid paralysis among children less than fifteen years of age was one of the four pillars of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
According to Dr Mugenyi, the objective of the deployment is to strengthen surveillance for COVID-19 and AFP which includes: Mentorship of Health workers on COVID-19 and AFP surveillance, active search for COVID-19 and AFP in selected facilities, orientation of community health workers on COVID-19 and AFP and the follow up suspected cases for COVID-19.
The National Stop Transmission of Polio (NSTOP) initiative, is a polio eradication initiative in Africa under the Global Immunization Division (GID) branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NSTOP teams are sensitizing health workers in COVID-19 and AFP as well as documenting lessons learned regarding leveraging existing programs to integrate surveillance for priority diseases.