Chapter 5: Outbreak Preparedness and Response Planning

updated on 01 June 2022


To learn how to prepare for disease surveillance and how to respond to outbreaks using the PODD system.


Outbreak preparedness is an essential component of the PODD response cycle. This is a key requirement for countries to be able to provide health security for their citizens. Preparing for outbreaks and other hazards needs careful planning and adequate resources, but when it is done well it has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the human and economic costs of outbreaks.


Ensuring communities have critical information about the spread of diseases and how to prevent them, as well as systems to detect outbreaks, is paramount to effective outbreak readiness. PODD preparedness activities include:

  • Engaging communities through house-to-house visits and group discussions. 
  • Engaging, training and collaborating with community influencers, such as teachers, village leaders and traditional healers.
  • Strengthening partnerships with different sectors and ministries/departments
  • Training and readying community volunteers how to detect abnormal health events with PODD application.
  • Contingency planning with government and key partners
  • Inventory reporting of current response resources from all relevant agencies
  • Training media to communicate lifesaving information to affected populations, without causing misinformation and fake news

Communications within and between community and local government should be established as part of the preparedness plan. This includes planning for how and when outbreak-related information should be communicated and shared, for example surveillance data and laboratory results. Particular consideration should be given to any barriers to communication between organizations, and how sensitive data will be shared.

Response Planning

In case of a confirmed outbreak in a community, it is important to plan a systematic response based on the available PODD data. Local government and community leaders must agree on the definition of an outbreak and form unanimous agreement on the response action strategy. Once a clear strategy has been defined, it is necessary to mobilize and manage the resources required to respond and contain the outbreak.

The activities to be implemented as a priority during all outbreaks will be:

  • Transparent communication between all relevant stakeholders especially the local government and the PODD response team
  • to prevent disease complications and deaths through early and effective case management
  • to review epidemiological data and immunization programme in order to identify the cause(s) of the outbreak
  • to increase public awareness of infection, treatment and prevention through immunization
  • intensive PODD surveillance (weekly reporting, including reporting that no cases have occurred – zero reporting)
  • investigation of all suspected cases
  • accelerated immunization activities (i.e. improving coverage amongst high risk populations and supplementary immunization in areas not yet affected by the outbreak)

The immunization response in most outbreaks occurs too late to affect the impact of the outbreak. If implemented, supplementary vaccination activities should focus on unaffected areas where the disease is more likely to spread.

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