Community-Based Surveillance: Knowledge and skills of Community Health Workers in epidemics setting in Ganjuwa LGA, Nigeria

Igiene e Sanità Pubblica 2023; 87 (6)128-138

André Izacar Gaël BITA1, Nyenty Agbor Agbornkwai2, Dieudonné Kagaike Tcholai3, Benjamin Gandi4

1ICT University, Department of public health, Yaounde, Cameroon
2Family Health International 360, Bafoussam, Cameroon
3IEDA Relief, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
4Federal Ministry of Health, Bauchi state, Nigeria

Keywords: Community-based surveillance, epidemic-prone diseases


Introduction: Community-based surveillance (CBS) is essential for early detection and prompt response to epidemic-prone diseases (EPD). Community Health Workers (CHWs), trained in basic healthcare services, can play a vital role in this process. Like many Local government Areas (LGA) in Nigeria, between January and September 2023, Ganjuwa LGA in Bauchi state was facing a simultaneous outbreak of measles, pertussis, Diphtheria, and Lassa Fever.

Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study among the CHWs in the Ganjuwa LGA to assess their knowledge and skills in CBS of EPD by using a questionnaire. Exhaustive sampling of CHWs implicated in CBS in Ganjuwa LGA and who gave verbal consent were included. Stata 16.0 software was used for analysis. The final score of knowledge of CHWs on CBS was calculated with the rate of the total best answers given by the CHWs based on five questions fixed.

Results: The study enrolled 71 CHWs with a majority being male (61.97%) and an
average age of 27 years. The education level of the CHWs varied, with 61.97% having completed secondary school, 29.58% having a university education, and 8.45% having completed primary school. In terms of experience, the majority of CHWs had 1 year of experience (73.24%), followed by 2 years (15.49%). The findings revealed that only a small percentage of CHWs (23.94%) recognized that Ganjuwa LGA was affected by four outbreaks, and 35.21% were aware that EPD could be transmitted through various means in communities. The overall knowledge score of the CHWs was relatively low, with a mean score of 0.4 (ranging from 0 to 1). Most CHWs had a score of 0.2, while only 5.63% achieved a score of 1. On the positive side, a significant majority of CHWs felt comfortable conducting home visits to identify suspected cases of EPD (76.06%) and expressed confidence in their ability to educate community members about disease surveillance and reporting (71.83%). Additionally, a majority of CHWs were familiar with the process of collecting and recording data related to EPD at the community level
(64.79%). Most CHWs also expressed willingness to undergo additional training to
improve their knowledge and skills in CBS (64.79%) and reported working well with local health facilities and authorities for information sharing and collaboration on disease surveillance efforts (73.24%).

Conclusion: Overall, these findings highlight both strengths and areas for improvement in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of CHWs regarding disease surveillance and reporting in the community. Targeted training interventions can help address the gaps identified and further enhance the effectiveness of CHWs in their roles.

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