40.1  Public health surveillance

Public health surveillance of communicable diseases involves continuous data collection, examination of the data (data analysis), interpretation of the data and dissemination of the information to concerned bodies such as the District Health Office and the nearby Health Centre. Based on the information, health workers like you, supported by the higher authorities, can take appropriate disease control measures. Surveillance activities are information loops that start with data collection and end with appropriate disease control measures, as shown in Figure 40.1.

Information loop involved in surveillance of diseases
Figure 40.1  Information loop involved in surveillance of diseases.

As part of a health care team with reponsibility for around 500 families in your community, you will routinely need to collect, analyse and interpret health-related data, and send reports of your findings to the nearby Health Centre. In addition, during an outbreak or epidemic of infectious disease (i.e. an increase in the expected number of cases), you will need to work with other health team members to actively find new cases in your catchment area. In the following sections, we will present detailed descriptions of the activities needed for surveillance as set out in the boxes in Figure 40.1.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 40

40.2  Data collection and recording