Emerging Epidemics: Improving Preparedness in Burkina Faso


Start date: 1 August, 2018 End date: 31 July, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 17-06-KU Countries: Burkina Faso Thematic areas: Health, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), Burkina Faso University of Ouagadougou (OU), Burkina Faso Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Helle Samuelsen Total grant: 9,997,249 DKK

Project summary

The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa showed how rapidly an infectious disease can spread within and across borders. The overall ambition of this project is to identify key elements for a ‘smart foresighting system’ for early detection of infectious diseases in order to reduce the risk of new international pandemics. By ‘smart’,we mean an ICT (primarily mobile phones) and Severe Sickness/Verbal Autopsy (SS/VA) system, that draws on existing local perceptions and practices, and involves the local community. With its location in a politically fragile region and close to three Ebola-affected countries, Burkina Faso is a particularly relevant country for this theme of study. The project is interdisciplinary, combining anthropology, epidemiology and computer science with strong focus on research capacity building and research based stakeholder engagement. The study is organized in four Work-Packages. In WP1, we will study local perceptions and practices of disease and care-giving, and in WP2, we will identify locally relevant disease indicators and methods for identification of early warning signals at community level. In WP3, we plan to analyze patterns and means of communication using ICT.Inputs from WP 1-3 will be used to develop a smart foresighting system, which will be pilot tested in WP4. Theoretically, the ambition is to provide cutting-edge contributions to the field of global health security.

The main outputs of the project will be a total of four PhD degrees (three from Burkina Faso and one from Denmark), a minimum of 15 publications, five policy briefs, two regional and one national stakeholder workshops, an international conference as well as tools and recommendations for an improved community based system for early detection of infectious diseases.


Midterm report
The Covid-19 pandemic and the fragile security situation in Burkina Faso present challenges as well as opportunities for the "EMERGENT EPIDEMIC: Improving Preparedness in Burkina Faso" project. The challenges (travel- and fieldwork restrictions) changed and delayed the fieldwork of the various sub-projects. But, Covid-19 as an 'emerging epidemic' also presented us with new and unforeseen possibilities of studying preparedness and local responses to the disease itself as well as to the various restrictions implemented. Also, it gave us the opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with research assistants in relation to both collection of data, analysis and publication. We have published a total of 11 peer-reviewed international journal articles, as well as a number of national publications, three book chapters, a podcast, a blog post and we have contributed with inputs and debates on the Covid-19 pandemic in radio programs and newspaper articles - and we still have a number of articles in preparation. In addition we have proposed and convened a joint panel at the Association of Social Anthropology UK conference in London, and papers were presented at other international and regional conferences. Three of the four PhD fellows have successfully defended their thesis. Furthermore, team members have participated in various DFC activities, including the Science Engagement Days in Arusha, Tanzania.

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