Challenges to implementation and strengthening of initial COVID-19 surveillance in Vanuatu: January–April 2020

Authors

  • Wendy Williams Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Caroline van Gemert Vanuatu Health Program, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Joanne Mariasua Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Edna Iavro Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Debbie Fred Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Vanuatu Health Program, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Johnny Nausien Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Obed Manwo Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Vincent Atua Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Vila Central Hospital, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • George Junior Pakoa Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Vila Central Hospital, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Annie Tassiets Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Tessa B Knox Country Liaison Office, World Health Organization, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Michael Buttsworth Country Liaison Office, World Health Organization, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Geoff Clark Vanuatu Health Program, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Matthew Cornish Private physician, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Posikai Samuel Tapo Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Len Tarivonda Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Philippe Guyant Country Liaison Office, World Health Organization, Port Vila, Vanuatu

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5365/wpsar.2020.11.2.012

Abstract

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases, including epidemics and pandemics; chronic food and water insecurity; and natural hazards, including cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and flooding. In March 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. By the end of April 2020, Vanuatu had reported no confirmed cases of COVID-19. Data from several sources are collected in Vanuatu’s COVID-19 surveillance system to provide an overview of the situation, including data from case investigations and management, syndromic surveillance for influenza-like illness, hospital surveillance and laboratory surveillance. Review of data collected from January to the end of April 2020 suggests that there was no sustained increase in influenza-like illness in the community and no confirmed cases were identified. Lessons learnt from the early implementation of surveillance activities, the changing landscape of laboratory testing and pharmaceutical interventions, as well as the global experience, particularly in other Pacific island countries, will inform the refinement of COVID-19 surveillance activities in Vanuatu.

Author Biographies

Wendy Williams, Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Wendy is the Surveillance Manager at the Vanuatu MOH.

Caroline van Gemert, Vanuatu Health Program, Port Vila, Vanuatu; Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Caroline van Gemert is working as an epildmiologist for the Vanuatu Health Program, providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health on their COVID-19 response. Dr van Gemert is also an NHMRC-funded early-career research fellow in the field of public health surveillance and epidemiological research in Australia and the Pacific region

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Published

05-04-2021

Issue

Section

COVID-19: Surveillance System Implementation / Evaluation