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Public health approaches to infectious disease
Public health approaches to infectious disease

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5.4.3 Surveillance and case mapping

Surveillance and case mapping have also played a huge part in reducing guinea worm disease to such a low incidence and they are crucial to the ‘final push’ to eradicate it worldwide. The main steps are as follows.

  1. The community health workers in endemic countries report cases to their national registry, which collates all the data and then reports to the WHO.
  2. Cases are mapped accurately using GPS location finding to ensure that contaminated water sources are identified and local people are alerted to the risks.
  3. This technology has enabled data to be combined on a visual display, which maps the exact locations of at-risk populations, natural water sources, relevant infrastructures (e.g. wells, boreholes, health clinics, schools), and the number of trained health workers committed to guinea worm eradication projects.
  4. The maps allow the swift identification of places where resources need to be targeted more effectively, and where cases are being imported from neighbouring areas.

The dracunculiasis maps have also proved to be highly effective advocacy tools, both for informing governments of the progress of the campaign and for persuading commercial donors and aid agencies to support it.

Subsequently, the public health mapping project has been extended to support other eradication and disease control programmes, including the Polio Eradication Campaign and ‘Roll Back Malaria’. In 2003, the system was extended to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, and complex emergencies involving infectious diseases such as SARS.