Road-testing innovative surveillance technologies for rabies
Effective disease surveillance systems are rarely available in developing countries, but they are essential for 1) enabling informed decisions about when and where to implement new intervention programmes; and 2) generating valuable data on the cost-effectiveness of on-going control measures critical for their sustainable implementation. However, development of low-cost rapid immunodiagnostic tests coupled with increasing access to mobile telecommunication and interfaced database technologies offer real and affordable opportunities. We propose to harness local aptitude and support, and widespread network coverage to pilot these user-friendly field-based techniques for rapid detection and reporting of rabies cases, exposure-incidence and vaccine use within rural communities in southern Tanzania. Our main objective is to establish a sustainable and replicable monitoring system for generating and disseminating detailed real-time data on rabies incidence, and the accessibility and usage of PEP, specifically: i. to reduce human deaths and minimise disease burden by improving access to vaccines for animal-bite victims and ii. to improve awareness of the effectiveness of mass dog vaccination campaigns, carried out in partnership with local government, using highly-resolved spatial and temporal epidemiological data acquired from this novel surveillance system. The project will deliver a practical and easy-to-use surveillance tool directly into the hands of local veterinary and public health workers, enabling the sharing of data, coordination of joint control and prevention strategies, and increasing the effectiveness with which resources are distributed to prevent human cases. This will be achieved through a series of training workshops in improved field diagnostics for surveillance personnel and students; development of a real-time mobile web-accessible database to report exposures and cases in human and animal populations and disseminate information directly to stakeholders, and data collection and evaluation using these tools.