Disease Control in Humanitarian Emergencies

Field epidemiology

Setting up early warning surveillance and response systems

Delay in the detection of outbreaks and inadequate preparedness and response aggravates the impact of communicable diseases, leading to increased numbers of cases, increased duration of epidemics, excess mortality and the potential for spread to other areas nationally, regionally, or globally.

Setting up early warning surveillance systems, preparing for, investigating and responding to priority communicable diseases is critical in reducing morbidity and mortality in vulnerable populations affected by humanitarian emergencies, but also in protecting global health security.

Other methods of data collection in humanitarian emergencies such as surveys, as well as monitoring and evaluation of programmes are vital to prioritization and the efficient allocation of resources as well as strengthening interventions.

Key areas

DCE provides technical and operational field epidemiological services in the following three key areas:

1. Implementation of surveillance, early warning alert and response systems in acute emergencies

Example: Pakistan floods 2010, Myanmar cyclone 2008, Horn of Africa floods 2006, Lebanon 2006, Pakistan earthquake 2005, Indonesia tsunami 2005, Sudan/Darfur 2004, and Iraq 2003.

2. Outbreak investigation and response

Example: Cholera in Haiti and Pakistan 2010, Measles in South Africa 2010, Unknown illness in Somalia 2009, Cholera in Zimbabwe 2008-2009, heliotrope intoxication in Afghanistan 2008, bromide poisoning in Angola 2007, Ebola in Uganda and DRC 2007, avian influenza in Jordan and Iraq 2006, hepatitis E in Chad and Sudan 2004, cholera in Iraq and Liberia 2003.

3. Surveillance reviews, surveys, programme monitoring and evaluation

Example: Surveillance/EWARN reviews in Darfur and southern Sudan 2009, polio eradication in activities in Congo 2010, Liberia 2010, Egypt 2010, Central African Republic 2008-9, Uganda 2009, DRC 2009-2010, Afghanistan 2008, India 2007-2010, Angola 2007, and guinea worm eradication in Northern Uganda 2009, Sudan 2007, Kenya 2007.

Outbreak surveillance and response in humanitarian emergencies:WHO guidelines for EWARN implementation

Contact us

cdemergencies@who.int
DCE/WHO
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
Fax: +(41) 22 7914777