225491 Social workers as connectors in community level disease control efforts in Kassala State, Sudan

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Catherine Cunningham, BA , University of Washington, Department of Global Health, Global Health Leadership Program, Seattle, WA
Sara Hassan Mustafa, MPHc , Department of Planning, National Ministry of Health, Khartoum, Sudan
Somia Idris Okoued, MPH , Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, Kassala State Ministry of Health, Kassala State, Sudan
Chloe Waters, MSW/MPHc , Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Issues: The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Sudan has taken efforts to develop an infrastructure for a systematic approach for early detection and response to infectious diseases. Despite progress building this capacity, the MOH struggles to reach all communities with its surveillance system. In Kassala State, social workers have begun to fill the gaps of public health efforts to see whether this cadre could be effective in conducting community interventions. Kassala State is home to many ethnic and tribal groups, including the Bija, a nomadic population systematically marginalized by the government's development efforts. Description: We conducted an evaluation of the program focusing specifically on the role of social workers serving as liaisons between the government and the communities it serves. We used focus group discussions in communities and key informant interviews. Lessons Learned: Our findings show social workers are an effective cadre in public health interventions and specifically that communities are able to build trust more easily with social workers. In Bija communities, social workers have been particularly successful liaisons between MOH employees and community members. Still, we found that social workers lack formal training in epidemiologic methods and knowledge of disease control, and this gap limits their ability to provide support. Recommendations: Formalizing the tasks of state-employed social workers tailored for each locality based on its needs and strengths and delineating the necessary training can improve community interventions.. This process reinforces the need for multi-disciplinary teams to provide the MOH the capacity to provide equitable coverage across communities.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify tasks for social workers in public health interventions. Describe the need for multidisciplinary teams for successful public health interventions tailored to diverse communities Discuss challenges in public sector detection and response efforts in reaching marginalized communities.

Keywords: Community Health, Social Work Roles

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present as an author because I work on roles and training of public health professionals in Sudan with a non-profit affiliated with the University of Washington.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.