Disease Surveillance


Move towards IDSR Electronic Web Based System: The Kenya Experience
Communicable diseases such as cholera, viral hemorrhagic fevers, yellow fever, Influenza, malaria, and tuberculosis remain the leading causes of morbidity, mortality and disability in Kenya. While these diseases present a threat to the well-being of communities, there are well known interventions for detecting, controlling and preventing them. Strengthening the availability of surveillance information supported by laboratory confirmation when indicated can improve detection and response to these diseases, conditions and events in time to limit their impact on the health of affected communities. Early detection and effective rapid response to these diseases is critical to reduce morbidity, mortality and disability when they occur.

Previous surveillance reporting in Kenya
The previous IDSR reporting system evolved since it was implemented in 2002. At the inception, the existing reporting challenges resulted in district reporting rates of 30% and below, with even lower health facility reporting rates. The system was largely paper based. A weekly epidemiological bulletin was prepared and circulated via email to all levels served by email; this formed the principal form of feedback and information sharing.

The system faced the following challenges:

  • Remotely located health facilities in vast and hard-to-reach districts lacked means to deliver the reports
  • Some districts and health facilities also lacked the resources (motor vehicles, mobile network and access to courier services) to relay the reports to the next level
  • There was lack of provision for effective feedback and back-communication to the sub-national levels
  • Over time, when more reporting levels resorted to the use of mobile reporting, there was lack of short message service (SMS) standardization to facilitate data accuracy

The new application
The MoPHS just rolled out an electronic web IDSR reporting and information system to address the above challenges and meet the evolving information needs. The application, officially launched on 28th June 2011 uses mobile telephone technology to relay data and information from the community, health facilities and district level to the national level. This is a huge boost to one of EAPHLN’s project components (Disease Surveillance) in which Kenya has been chosen to take lead in the region.

The overall goal of the application is to improve data transmission and multi-level communication for disease surveillance in order to facilitate timely reporting and prompt response to disease outbreaks, emergencies and other events of public health concern.

The system is being implemented country-wide in all health facilities (Governmental, Faith-based, Community-run and Private) and at the national and all sub-national health administrative levels in a phased approach from national level downwards. While it is desirable that the data input level is shifted to the lowest point in the health care system possible, this will be done gradually to allow room for review. The system will also allow for a scale up to all health facilities in the country.

Lastly, enormous resource savings will be made. Resources previously used for printing and distribution of reporting tools to sub-national levels and in relay of reports using the manual system will be saved.

(Source: Integrated Disease Surveillance & Response)


Disease Surveillance
Communicable Disease Burden Kenya 2009 - 2013538.3 KiB1999
Report Of The First East African Community Epidemiological Symposium March 201373.4 KiB654
The Dengue Fever Response Report In Mandera East District2.4 MiB1053


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