Local Cross-Border Disease Surveillance and Control
Experiences from the Mekong Basin
Published in: BMC Research Notes, v. 8, no. 90, Mar. 2015, p. 1-10
BACKGROUND: The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance cooperation (MBDS) is one of several sub-regional disease surveillance networks that have emerged in recent years as an approach to transnational cooperation for infectious disease prevention and control. Since 2003 MBDS has pioneered a unique model for local cross-border cooperation. This study examines stakeholders' perspectives of these MBDS experiences, based on a survey of local managers and semi-structured interviews with MBDS leaders and the central coordinator. RESULTS: Fifteen managers from 12 of 20 paired cross-border sites completed a written survey. They all monitor most or all of the 17 diseases agreed upon for MBDS surveillance information sharing. Fourteen agreed or strongly agreed with statements about the core MBDS values of cooperation, mutual trust, and transparency, and their own contributions to national and regional disease control (average score of 4.4 of 5.0). Respondents felt they implemented well to very well activities related to surveillance reporting (average scores 3.4 to 3.9 of 4.0), using computers for their work (3.9/4.0), and using surveillance data for action (3.8/4.0). Respondents reported that they did worst in implementing research (2.1/4.0) and somewhat poorly for local laboratory testing (2.9/4.0) and local coordination with cross-border counterparts (2.9/4.0), although all 15 maintain a list with contact information for these counterparts and many know their counterparts. Implementation of specified activities within their collective regional action plan was uneven across the cross-border sites. Most respondents reported positive lessons learned about local cooperation, information sharing and joint problem solving, based on trusting relationships with their cross-border counterparts. They recommend expansion of cross-border sites within MBDS and consideration of the cross-border cooperation model by other sub-regional networks. CONCLUSIONS: MBDS has over a decade of experience with its model of local cross-border cooperation in disease surveillance and control. Frontline managers have documented success with this model, strongly support it and recommend its expansion within and beyond the MBDS network. The MBDS cross-border cooperation model is standing the test of time as a solid approach to building and sustaining the public health capabilities needed for disease surveillance and control from the local to national and global levels.