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Technical guidelines for integrated disease surveillance and response in the African region
  • Published Date:
    July 2001
Filetype[PDF-1.97 MB]

  • Corporate Authors:
    World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa., Division of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. ; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Epidemiology Program Office., Division of International Health. ; National Center for Infectious Diseases (U.S.), Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases.
  • Description:
    Introduction -- Section 1. Identify cases of priority diseases, conditions and events -- Section 2. Report priority diseases and conditions -- Section 3. Analyze data -- Section 4. Investigate suspected outbreaks and other public health problems -- Section 5. Respond to outbreaks and other public health problems -- Section 6. Provide feedback -- Section 7. Evaluate and improve surveillance and response -- Section 8. Summary guidelines for specific priority diseases and conditions

    In September 1998, the 48th Regional Committee for Africa met in Harare. Through resolution AFRO/RC48/R2, Member States adopted integrated disease surveillance as a regional strategy for early detection and efficacious response to priority communicable diseases for the African region. Communicable diseases are the most common causes of death, disability and illness in the African region. While these diseases present a large threat to the well-being of African communities, there are well-known interventions that are available for controlling and preventing them. Surveillance data can guide health personnel in the decision making needed to implement the proper strategies for disease control and lead to activities for preventing future cases. Surveillance is a watchful, vigilant approach to information gathering that serves to improve or maintain the health of the population. A functional disease surveillance system is essential for defining problems and taking action. Using epidemiological methods in the service of surveillance equips district and local health teams to set priorities, plan interventions, mobilize and allocate resources and predict or provide early detection of outbreaks. Depending on the goal of the disease prevention programme, the surveillance activity objectives guides programme managers towards selecting data that would be the most useful to collect and use for making evidenced-based decisions for public health actions. A disease control program may want to know what progress is being made with its prevention activities. The program collects age and vaccination statues for cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. If the program's goal is to prevent outbreaks, the surveillance unit can monitor the epidemiology of a particular disease so that the program can more accurately identify where the next cases might occur or the populations at highest risk. In addition, improving laboratory support for disease surveillance is essential for confirming causes of illness and early detection of outbreaks. Casebased investigation and laboratory confirmation provide the most precise information about where action must be taken to achieve an elimination target. Monitoring populations at highest risk for a particular disease can help to predict future outbreaks and focus prevention activities in the areas where they are most needed. Too often, however, surveillance data for communicable disease is neither reported nor analyzed. As a result, the opportunity to take action with an appropriate public health response and save lives is lost. Even in cases where adequate information is collected, it is often not available for use at the local level. Experiences with some disease eradication and elimination programs show that disease control and prevention objectives are successfully met when resources are dedicated to improving the ability of health officials to detect the targeted diseases, obtain laboratory confirmation of outbreaks, and use action thresholds at the district level. Building on these successes, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) proposes a comprehensive strategy for improving communicable disease surveillance and response through integrated disease surveillance (IDS) linking community, health facility, district and national levels in the African region. The IDS strategy provides for a rational use of resources for disease control and prevention. Currently, many intervention programs have their own disease surveillance systems. Each program has made efforts through the years to improve its ability to obtain data for developing timely and reliable information that can be used for action. They involve similar functions especially at district and health facility levels. They often use the same structures, processes and personnel.

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