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Strengthening epidemic response and preparedness – IDS technical briefs

Key political, economic, cultural and social insights from the Institute of Development Studies for each of the countries we work with.

Integrating social science perspectives into TDDA’s technical assistance work provides important benefits. It strengthens our understanding of the contexts in which we operate and shapes the support we give in our focus countries – Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Uganda. These insights are essential to improving emergency response systems so that they are more effective, adaptive, evidence-based, and planned in consultation with affected and at-risk communities.

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The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a valued resource partner to TDDA, providing specialist services to assist our programme delivery. With our support, they have recently produced a series of technical briefs, detailing the key political, economic, cultural and social issues facing each of the countries we work with. The briefings provide insights into:

  • overview of the country’s health system

  • issues related to infectious disease outbreaks, response, and preparedness

  • health governance and key actors

  • community experiences

  • implications for outbreak preparedness and response.

Feeding in to TDDA’s work, the IDS briefings offer key recommendations in each country context. These range from improvements to training and infrastructure needed to deliver a better quality of care, to strengthened governance and coordination, improved data and surveillance, and effective community mobilization.

Spotlight on Côte d’Ivoire

In the Côte d’Ivoire briefing, for example, many of the recommendations share a strong focus on strengthening the links between communities and the state health system.

As well as being accessible and affordable, the country’s health services need to be adapted to the realities of the sick, their vulnerabilities and culturally-based health beliefs. Without accessibility, affordability and adaption, many look to alternative medicine over biomedical services. Sick people might be concealed or may migrate away, rather than seek medical help.

Communities are rarely engaged in Côte d’Ivoire’s health sector or epidemic response at present, which can lead to distrust and causes difficulties during epidemics. A more collaborative approach is needed. Trust could be rebuilt by scaling up the community health worker model, the research suggests. Communities and alternative health providers could be enlisted to support surveillance, communication, treatment, and referral to biomedical services. Greater intercultural understanding could enable the government to tailor risk communications to specific vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women or migrants, many of whom may need additional protections during an epidemic.

Read the IDS technical briefs in full here:


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