The project increased the rate of AFP detection and reporting and put the implementing countries in a better position to meet the World Health Organization’s targets for AFP surveillance. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, a total of 499 true AFP cases have been reported by community informants through AVADAR, a significant improvement over traditional paper-based surveillance systems which yielded 38 cases in the same period.
Our goal was to model a system that would enable health systems in the implementing countries to find, report and investigate AFP cases, and that would be sustainable in the long run. It became imperative for the health systems in these countries to take ownership of and lead the implementation and expansion of the AVADAR model, and possibly replicate it for the surveillance, reporting, and investigation of other diseases of public health concern. However, without the requisite skills, most countries will fail at effectively managing the system including reporting and managing the investigation of cases, and tracking and resolving technical issues.
Relying on our experience with the execution of AVADAR, where some informants were groomed to take on more roles on the project, we worked with the WHO to identify champion informants who had distinguished themselves through their timeliness on the system and technical aptitude with the AVADAR devices. Some of these informants were trained to serve as investigators—who track and review reported AFP cases to confirm if they are true or not—or as technical officers, who resolve technical issues and ensure that their fellow informants are able to continue reporting suspected AFP cases.