21 February 2014

Fridays from the Archives: Surveillance & Integration

Friday, February 21, 2014: Surveillance & Integration

Public health practitioners are increasingly focused on understanding cross-border syndromic surveillance data. Here in the US, ISDS encourages inter-state data understanding and sharing through regional workshops. In Europe, practitioners have been working since 2010 on gathering data and creating a framework for integrating syndromic surveillance. This has occurred under the scope of work of the Triple-S project

In 2012 Duncan Cooper, a Registrar in Public Health under the UK's National Health Service,  spoke about gathering data from European countries on their syndromic surveillance systems. In Towards Integrated Syndromic Surveillance in Europe?, Dr. Cooper describes Triple-S's work to meet the objective of "increasing the European capacity for real-time or near-real time surveillance and monitoring the health burden of expected and unexpected health related events". 

First, the presentation addresses practical concerns. Prior to integrating syndromic surveillance systems, the project needs data. Not syndromic surveillance data, per se, but metadata on the systems themselves. For instance, who are the key stakeholders? What are individual syndromic surveillance systems used for? Is there even a syndromic surveillance system in all target countries?

To answer these questions the Triple-S project team identified key stakeholders and lined up site visits throughout Europe. They also sent questionnaires to 28 European Union countries, including subsequent in-depth follow up questionnaires. With this data, the project progressed to identifying next steps, including developing a minimum dataset, communication materials, common evaluation criteria, and checklists. 

Perhaps most importantly, this project established trust and communication between a variety of public health jurisdictions. Going forward, the EU can integrate reporting on syndromic surveillance functions such as outbreak detection and general public-health surveillance, a vital function in a very inter-connected world.

This post is part of the series Fridays from the Archives. You can access all posts in the series here.

Written by Becky Zwickl, MPH, ISDS Public Health Analyst (bzwickl@syndromic.org).

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