Pandemic preparation with community-led monitoring

It’s a brand-new week after all the excitement of the “Master your master’s” workshop. With such an extensive range of topics covered, there’s plenty of on-target information for our MPhils to reflect on as they continue the journey.

A focus area on Friday was the importance of community mobilisation in pandemic preparedness and primary healthcare, presented by Russell Rensburg (director of the Rural Health Advocacy Project) and Ngqabutho Mpofu (advocacy and communication manager of the Treatment Action Campaign). This tied in with the emphasis keynote speaker Eva Kiwango from UNAIDS placed on putting people at the centre of pandemic-fighting efforts.

Rensburg gave an overview of the SA healthcare landscape, emphasising how health progress in rural districts lag progress in urban districts, worsened by a drastic drop in public primary care visits during Covid-19. Drawing from the lessons learnt during the crisis management of Covid-19, he pointed to the importance of good data in supporting good governance and data-driven decision-making.

This is where community-led monitoring (CLM) comes into play. CLM refers to systematic data collection at community health service sites that can be used to solve problems. Mpofu used the Ritshidze model as an example. Ritshidze monitors over 400 clinics and community healthcare centres across 8 provinces in South Africa and is one of the most extensive community-led monitoring efforts in the world. Find out more about this incredible initiative at