WHAT IS POPCAB?
PopCAB simply means Population Connectivity Across Borders. It is actually a toolkit for gathering and analyzing information about population and or animal mobility or movement to inform public health interventions.
It defines the rules and intervention that apply to travelers/mobility through an area, the routes taken, the reasons for travel, health checks needed and any other travel parameters that ensure the safety and health of human and zoonotic (animal) population.
PoPCAB has been adopted to study a number of other given the warranted interaction between animals and humans, and the like cross infections thereof.
Geoffrey Baluku Baylor Uganda Global health officer stresses that “as long as there are mobile populations/animals around an area, we need to watch out for diseases and use to understand the challenges so as to prepare response strategies for communicable diseases”. PopCAB has recently been used in Uganda to support surveillance for Viral Hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola, Marburg, several acute respiratory infections like COVID-19 and other publish health threats
The use of PopCAB predictive measures offer key pointers to understanding the likely spread of disease using various parameters like understanding why certain groups of people move during such seasons, the particular routes they take, the specifications and trades like Agriculture practicing populations they engage in, and the types of people that are targeted as vulnerable and susceptible to easily spread or get easily infected e.g., sex workers, cross border traders, Boda-Boda riders etc.
GLOBAL CONCERN/LOCAL CONCERNS; WHY PopCAB.
Global and local mobility a cross-border/regional movement have been the major driving factors for pandemics and other recent communicable diseases like Covid -19 and Ebola. Border closures, movement restrictions, quarantines, vaccine regulations activities and other mitigation policies have been instituted to reduce the pandemic surges.
The PopCAB toolkit has been a very essential instrument to scientifically define and inform which restrictive policies must be instituted to intervene spread of such pandemics/communicable diseases. Let us not talk about ZooCABS
ZOOCAB IN UGANDA
The ZooCAB toolkit has been piloted to describe and characterize cross‐border and national‐level movement of animals that may spread zoonotic diseases across in the tri‐state areas of Uganda, South Sudan and DRC.
- Identify a threat; A threat is any disease alert situation that could arise from human or zoonotic movement patterns driven by a range of economic, health, social, and or environmental factors that could necessitate PopCAB activity attention.
- Objectives formulation; These are formulated as likely measurement outcomes that will inform a PopCAB activity.
Examples could be;
To understand population/zoonotic mobility patterns to inform preparedness efforts in case of future outbreaks
To characterize the population moving across borders and their reasons for moving
To map out the most common cross-border routes and what the different routes are routinely used for
- Stakeholder Mapping; Interventions are best managed by specialized stakeholders and authority at national regional and or district Local levels.
- Logistics; There is need to Identify and mobilize logistics necessary e.g. financial and human resources, equipment etc.
- Technical tools; The PopCAB team will then need to formulate and conduct focus group discussions (FGD) and key informant interviews (KII). The data collected is shared with response teams that are set and trained to manage an outbreak or an impending outbreak
UGANDA CASE SCENARIO
In Uganda, the PopCAB toolkit has been used to support disease preparedness and response efforts during several outbreaks, including the 2018 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Kasese, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently, the 2022 EVD outbreak in Mubende.
The PopCAB capacity building exercise had earlier been delegated by the Ministry of Health to only implementing partners that include Baylor-Uganda and IDI, limiting the number of multidisciplinary teams capable of conducting PopCABs in the country.
Moreover, an internal review of the Joint External Evaluation indicators by the Ministry of Health revealed that Uganda has only been conducting population mobility assessments among human populations, whereas the indicator requires multidisciplinary PopCABs.
As the established Regional Emergency Operation Centers (REOCs) increasingly play an important role in preparedness and response activities, the Ministry of Health has delegated Baylor-Uganda and other partners to train multidisciplinary teams at the regional level to conduct both PopCABs and Zoo Cabs.
Harriet Mayinja National Focal person PopCABs Minitsry of Haelth says PopCAB data is important in improving on correct rationaing of drug supllies especialy along Border districts.
She stressed that border districts must have core capacities especially ambulances and other equipmet to be able to ably respond to emergencies and other to concerns from neighbouring states. “PopCABs help responders to understand the issues sorrouding the numbers of people crossing during borders during insurgencies so as to inform the health unit capacity to handle such incidences and likely disease”. She added.
Harriet Mayinja National Focal person PopCABs Ministry of Health (in red) interacts PopCAB/ZooCAB training team in Mbarara
The Ministry of Health has emphasized the need to grasp the idea of understanding population and animal movement patterns across borders to inform preparedness and response activities for public health emergency and prevention of disease spread across borders
At the inception, unmonitored movement of zoonotic species was the major cause of diseases like Anthrax and and Rift Valley Fever among others. This has since been solved.
In all the above, Uganda has successfully applied PopCAB to collected data to inform intervention and in affected arears.
BAYLOR CONTRIBUTION TO BUILDING UGANDA’S CAPACITY TO CONDUCT POPCABS
- Baylor-Uganda Supported by the CDC Global Health Team, has trained regional teams on POPCAB/ZooCAB methodology and in turn these teams will support the assessment of population and animal movement patterns in those 6 regions. The training is intended to build the capacity of REOCs to coordinate PopCAB/ZooCAB activities at regional level. The districts that will benefit from this training include; Buliisa, Kagadi, Kikuube, Hoima, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kanungu, Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo and Isingiro. The training program will include both didactic and practical sessions, with the aim of equipping both national and regional teams with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively conduct PopCAB/ZooCAB.