Epidemic control for volunteers: a training manual

Manual and Guideline
Originally published
View original


Communicable diseases kill more than 14 million people around the world every year. They include respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria and measles. An increase in the number and severity of natural disasters has exacerbated their incidence.

Epidemics are a constant threat to the well-being of communities everywhere, especially in societies where resources are scarce. Managing and preferably preventing epidemics is a priority for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

This training package, which is aligned with the Community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) approach, aims to involve volunteers more effectively in the management of epidemics. It provides volunteers with basic information on infections and diseases that can easily become epidemic if circumstances in the environment change.

The Epidemic Control Manual for Volunteers (the Manual), and the Epidemic Control Toolkit (the Toolkit) which accompanies it, have been written for volunteers and for trainers in local National Society branches. While not exhaustive, the two documents will familiarize volunteers with the most common epidemics and with the diseases that most frequently cause death and suffering. They encourage volunteers to apply evidence-based methods to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in their communities, care appropriately for the sick, and so reduce the number of people becoming sick or dying.

Volunteers can help in many ways when an epidemic occurs. The Manual and the Toolkit will help them to define their roles in the community before, during and after an epidemic and to act in ways that are appropriate for that particular epidemic. The knowledge and skills they acquire will enable them to act quickly and efficiently in a health emergency and help them to deal with other emergency situations.