Epidemics are a constant threat to the well-being of communities everywhere, and more especially so in societies where resources are scarce. Managing epidemics, or preferably preventing them, is a priority for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The role of communities in preventing, detecting and responding to local health threats is critical in improving the lives of millions across the world. One of the principal advantages of community- based surveillance (CBS) is that it ensures effective communication of unusual events or changes in the health status of residents in a community to authorities and, importantly, gives a voice to communities. This channel of communication enables an early detection and response to potential epidemics, making it possible to stop them before they start.
With 190 National Societies and 17 million volunteers, the Red Cross is uniquely placed to implement CBS in collaboration with local Ministries of Health and partners to ensure the early detection of public health threats, and to taking pre-emptive action before the situation worsens. Taking an all-hazard approach to health threats, CBS supports the early detection of human, animal and envi- ronmental changes that could impact health outcomes .
This set of guiding principles, builds on the eld experience of many communities, as well as the National Societies that support them. These principles will continue to be re ned as the experience and lessons from implementing CBS is gained across the world, supporting communities to play an essential role in their own health security and contributing to improved resilience of those most at risk.