Background: Effective surveillance and response systems are vital to achievement of disease control and elimination goals. Kenya adopted the revised guidelines of the integrated disease surveillance and response system in 2012. Previous assessments of surveillance system core and support functions in Africa are limited to notifiable diseases with minimal attention given to neglected tropical diseases amenable to preventive chemotherapy (PC-NTDs). The study aimed to assess surveillance system core and support functions relating to PC-NTDs in Kenya.
Methods: A mixed method cross-sectional survey was adapted involving 192 health facility workers, 50 community-level health workers and 44 sub-national level health personnel. Data was collected using modified World Health Organization generic questionnaires, observation checklists and interview schedules. Descriptive summaries, tests of associations using Pearson's Chi-square or Fisher's exact tests and mixed effects regression models were used to analyse quantitative data. Qualitative data derived from interviews with study participants were coded and analysed thematically.
Results: Surveillance core and support functions in relation to PC-NTDs were assessed in comparison to an indicator performance target of 80%. Optimal performance reported on specimen handling (84%; 100%), reports submission (100%; 100%) and data analysis (84%; 80%) at the sub-county and county levels respectively. Facilities achieved the threshold on reports submission (84%), reporting deadlines (88%) and feedback (80%). However, low performance reported on case definitions availability (60%), case registers (19%), functional laboratories (52%) and data analysis (58%). Having well-equipped laboratories (3.07, 95% CI: 1.36, 6.94), PC-NTDs provision in reporting forms (3.20, 95% CI: 1.44, 7.10) and surveillance training (4.15, 95% CI: 2.30, 7.48) were associated with higher odds of functional surveillance systems. Challenges facing surveillance activities implementation revealed through qualitative data were in relation to surveillance guidelines and reporting tools, data analysis, feedback, supervisory activities, training and resource provision.
Conclusion: There was evidence of low-performing surveillance functions regarding PC-NTDs especially at the peripheral surveillance levels. Case detection, registration and confirmation, reporting, data analysis and feedback performed sub-optimally at the facility and community levels. Additionally, support functions including standards and guidelines, supervision, training and resources were particularly weak at the sub-national level. Improved PC-NTDs surveillance performance sub-nationally requires strengthened capacities.
Keywords: Core functions; Neglected tropical diseases; Support functions; Surveillance and response systems.