Interagency toolkit designed for outbreak response

The World Health Organization recently detailed an interagency communication for behavioral impact (COMBI) toolkit aimed at helping to design effective outbreak control and prevention measures at the community level.

The toolkit, developed by the WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization, is intended for development and health promotion personnel working in multidisciplinary teams to respond to outbreaks. The WHO also said that the toolkit is useful for epidemiologists, clinicians and public health officers investigating the local context and dynamics of an outbreak.

The toolkit contains a seven-step approach with checklists and templates for designing behavioral and communication interventions that support outbreak prevention and control measures. The approach takes into account diverse cultures to limit the loss of life and minimize disruption to families and communities.

The toolkit also contains background information, case studies and other references. The WHO said the interagency toolkit is to be used in conjunction with the "COMBI toolkit: field workbook for COMBI planning steps in outbreak response."

While the toolkit is intended to combat localized outbreaks, the WHO said that it is not mean to address the underlying health challenges in a given area. Long-term challenges cannot be addressed during an outbreak, and should be handled in existing programs and interventions.