A photo from the Airbel Impact Lab archive
Democratic Republic of Congo

Development and Deployment of a Vital Events Surveillance System

Based on the same concept as the project below, this vital events surveillance project uses community health workers or newly recruited surveillance workers to actively visit a certain number of households biweekly to inquire about vital events, births (by age/sex), deaths (by age/sex), and new pregnancies for a large population (above 30,000-50,000). The role of the CHWs or surveillance workers is two-fold: to monitor vital events, including pregnancy outcomes, and to form a link between the households and IRC program services. The most important aspect of this project is that the surveillance is active, i.e., the surveillance worker visits his or her families to inquire about vital events. This departs from standard passive surveillance systems where people have to come to a health facility to report vital events. As preparation for the active surveillance, CDC and IRC staff visited with stakeholders one-on-one to find out setting-specific challenges, examined existing mechanisms, and ensured that there is buy-in before setting up a surveillance system. A number of focus group discussions were held at the village level to gain an understanding of the cultural issues that exist and to learn more about informal and formal mechanisms that exist for reporting deaths, births, and pregnancies.