Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32052087
Link to DOI – 10.1007/s00038-020-01338-x
Int J Public Health 2020 Apr; 65(3): 241-248
The Central African Republic (CAR), a site of recurrent disease emergence, developed a noteworthy epidemiological surveillance system from the colonial period, but its health measures have remained among the world’s lowest. To understand this disparity between surveillance and public health, we examined selected moments in its history of surveillance and changing relations with public health structures.We conducted archival research in CAR and French archives and 18 semi-structured interviews with key researchers working in CAR.We find long-term continuities in privileging surveillance over the health system and population health, making the CAR a “hotspot” for emerging diseases and a “blind spot” of primary health care. From the colonial period, the country attracted considerable support for surveillance, without concomitant investment in public health system. Political disputes and financial constraints have obscured real primary care needs on the ground.As both a hotspot and a blind spot for global health, the CAR signals the need to reorient health interventions to address the long-term health of Central African people.