Community engagement and community-based surveillance are essential components of responding to infectious disease outbreaks, but real-time data reporting remains a challenge. In the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, the Social Mobilisation Action Consortium was formed to scale-up structured, data-driven community engagement. The consortium became operational across all 14 districts and supported an expansive network of 2500 community mobilisers, 6000 faith leaders and 42 partner radio stations. The benefit of a more agile digital reporting system became apparent within few months of implementing paper-based reporting given the need to rapidly use the data to inform the fast-evolving epidemic. In this paper, we aim to document the design, deployment and implementation of a digital reporting system used in six high transmission districts. We highlight lessons learnt from our experience in scaling up the digital reporting system during an unprecedented public health crisis. The lessons learnt from our experience in Sierra Leone have important implications for designing and implementing similar digital reporting systems for community engagement and community-based surveillance during public health emergencies.
Keywords: public health; viral haemorrhagic fevers.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.