Public Health Emergency Response Units
community based surveillance

CBS as part of an emergency response

Emergency Response Units (ERU) are units the International Federations of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) coordinates as an emergency response, in collaboration with ERU National Societies. ERU are teams of trained specialists, who can start work on short notice and have capacity to work from one up to four months in the field. The aim is to deliver immediate support to National Societies undergoing a humanitarian crisis.

There has been identified a need for Public Health (PH) -focused tools in addition to the clinical care ERU´s offer in crisis, to mitigate health risks at the community level. The public health is normally affected when a crisis occurs, for example with disease outbreaks.

Used to prevent outbreaks

The overall purpose of the PH ERU CBS is to reduce the loss of lives by preventing or contributing to reduction of outbreaks or potential outbreaks of diseases or their negative impacts in sudden-onset disasters, protracted crisis or health emergencies/outbreaks, where there is a defined need for surveillance of diseases. The general objective of the PH ERU CBS is to support the establishment of a CBS system for detecting and reporting of events of public health significance within a community by community members, to strengthen the response during an emergency.

Collaboration with other PH and Clinical ERUs

This ERU configuration will not replace but complement existing ERUs. Neither does it replace capacity building of NS or contingency
planning. The PH  ERU CBS will have close linkages to other response activities. For example, it can link detected cases for referral to a clinical ERU. It can be deployed together with a community-case management of cholera PH ERU (CCM ERU), to allow for effective data collection at oral rehydration points. (see the figure below).

Figure 1.0 Complementarity of ERUs and link to pre and post disaster activities.