COVID-19 Alumni Stories: Liliana Candida Dengo-Baloi

Liliana Candida Dengo-Baloi (MSc Control of Infectious Diseases, 2019) works as Head of Central Office for Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation, for the National Health Institute Mozambique. In this blog piece, she describes how Mozambique has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and her role in the surveillance of active cases.

“COVID-19 hit Mozambique in March and the epidemic evolved slowly until May. In southern Africa, Mozambique is among the least affected countries: 472 cases, 2 deaths, and 15,544 suspected tested cases (statistics from 10 June, 2020).

“Most of the activities of our department have been put on hold and resources have been redirected to the epidemic. For the on-going Acute Respiratory Infections Sentinel Surveillance, we changed the methodology to become more sensitive and expanded nationally to respond to COVID-19. Active surveillance for COVID-19 was successfully implemented in all 11 provinces of our country, collecting both severe and mild cases of acute respiratory infections. To respond to the country’s clinical-epidemiological profile of most COVID-19 cases being mild or asymptomatic by then, systematic testing of front-line health care workers was also implemented, providing risk assessment of every heath care facility (HCF). At the moment (June 2020) our target is to collect, daily, all severe cases and at least 20 mild cases, in five HCFs per province. Our main objective is the early detection of COVID-19 cases, aiming for containment in the community.

“With nearly 500 cases exponentially growing, imported cases from repatriated national citizens from neighbouring country South Africa (registering the highest number of cases in the region at the time of writing), and cases from a multinational camp site in the northern provinces has contributed in the first rise of cases. The country has escalated community transmission and the number of cases in healthcare workers in the most populated province of the country, as our second wave of increasing cases.

“Our challenge now is how to adapt our surveillance strategy to the new scenario – making good use of our resources and still informing for impactful decision-making in such a dynamic epidemic. LSHTM’s training has helped me form timely decision-making and aided with the strategic aspects during this outbreak.”

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