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Case 5 : The Precision of Aid: Remembering the Forgotten Disease in the Horn of Africa
Western Public Health Casebooks
  • Janel Dhooma, Western University
  • Haytham Qosa, Canadian Red Cross
  • Ava A John-Baptiste, Western University
Case Synopsis

The district of Burao, Somaliland is in its 16th epidemiologic week in the midst of a cholera outbreak. The Somaliland Ministry of Health, in need of emergency relief, has requested that humanitarian organizations come to its aid. Eve Tinuviel has been deployed to Burao as a member of the Canadian Red Cross, where she serves as a global health advisor responsible for emergency health services. Eve’s main responsibility is to analyze disease surveillance data, triangulating data from different sources. A Health Cluster Coordination meeting amongst different health and humanitarian organizations reveals gaps in the epidemic response. The scarcity of resources and volunteers, and more importantly the incompleteness and inadequacy of the passive surveillance data, threaten Eve’s ability to trace newly affected individuals, identify the origins of the disease and develop strategies to help the affected communities.

Case Objectives
  1. Understand the difference between active and passive surveillance.
  2. Define outbreak, epidemic and endemic infection and differentiate among these concepts.
  3. Understand the value of surveillance data and how these data can inform emergency responses and program implementation.
  4. Recognize the challenges of conducting surveillance and coordinating amongst different organizations when resources are inadequate to support an epidemic response.
Case Study Questions
  1. Summarize the case.
  2. Discuss the importance of surveillance data and the different types.
  3. In your own words, briefly explain how data aids in implementing health programs.
  • Somaliland,
  • Canadian Red Cross,
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
  • cholera,
  • epidemiology,
  • precision public health,
  • disease surveillance
Citation Information
Dhooma, J., Qosa, H., & John-Baptiste, A. (2020). The Precision of Aid: Remembering the Forgotten Disease in the Horn of Africa in: McKinley, G. & Speechley, M. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2020. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.