The role of information networks in communicating and responding to HPAI outbreaks

Eva Schiffer, Clare A. Narrod, Klaus von Grebmer
controlling avian flu and protecting people’s livelihoods in africa and indonesia
hpai research brief

In many developing countries, information regarding the occurrence of a disease outbreak must travel through a network of individuals and institutions before it reaches the central government. Likewise, the response must travel back through these networks. Any break in these networks could delay the flow of information and action in either direction, potentially delaying the response and raising the risk of a wider outbreak. It is therefore important to identify the flow of information for disease reporting among institutions, and also to identify how influential these institutions are in terms of their impact on information flow and response to disease occurrence. Thus, researchers from IFPRI and ILRI conducted network mapping exercises with participating stakeholders from governmental agencies, the private sector, research institutions, and farmer and trader organizations during the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) inception workshops held separately in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria to answer the following questions: How does information about a suspected outbreak of avian influenza on the farm or market level reach the respective authorities? How and through which actors is the response to a confirmed outbreak implemented on the ground? In all of these countries, network maps (or Net-Maps) were prepared indicating the actors involved, their different kinds of linkages, and the influence that these actors have on making sure that the information about suspected outbreaks on the farm or market level reaches the national authorities and that an appropriate and timely response is implemented. The Net-Maps were based on experience with past interventions from the participants as well as their expert opinions. The Net-Maps also helped identify bottlenecks in communication and response that need further attention. This brief draws out the main findings from the Net-Maps of the study countries, including the potential breakpoints in the disease reporting and response networks.