40.2  Data collection and recording

Gathering and recording data about diseases in your community is a very important activity. As part of your routine practice, you are expected to collect health data from patients when they come to your Health Post. You are also expected to collect data during home visits about illnesses and deaths due to major communicable diseases, as well as about other health-related factors such as nutrition, immunization coverage and use of family planning methods. During data collection, you should record basic information about patients, such as their age, sex, address, symptoms of the illness and suspected disease or disorder (for example, injuries, spontaneous abortions, etc.)

Important!Never collect data that you cannot or will not use, because it is a waste of your time, energy and resources.

Table 40.1 shows an example of data on cases of disease/disorders recorded at Zemen Health Post. Remember, you should only collect data that you can use to improve health programmes in your area.

Table 40.1  Diseases and other health problems recorded at Zemen Health Post during three days in 1996 (Ethiopian calendar).
Serial no.Date seenNameKebeleSexAge (months/years)Signs and symptomsSuspected disease/disorder
016/5/96A.M.CM6 mthsCough, fever, difficulty in breathingPneumonia
026/5/96T.F.AM2 yrsFever, cough, rashesMeasles
036/5/96N.N.CM22 yrsLaceration (cuts) on right armInjury
046/5/96Y.E.CF28 yrsPregnancy, fever, anaemiaMalaria
057/5/96I.L.BF7 mthsFever, bulging fontanelMeningitis
067/5/96R.E.BF8 mthsFever, cough, difficulty in breathingPneumonia
077/5/96K.L.DF4 yrsFever, vomiting, diarrhoeaMalaria
087/5/96T.I.AM13 yrsFever, headache, bodily painsMalaria
097/5/96A.F.DF10 yrsFever, severe muscle pains with paralysis of the lower limbs Poliomyelitis
107/5/96D.O.DF24 yrsFever, headache, neck stiffnessMeningitis
118/5/96K.M.AM22 yrsWatery diarrhoeaDiarrhoea
128/5/96U.GAF20 mthsFracture, left upper armInjury
138/5/96P.F.CM23 mthsCough, fever, rashesMeasles
148/5/96H.I.CF24 yrsVaginal bleeding at four weeks pregnant Spontaneous abortion
158/5/96G.T.CF21 yrsFever, shockMalaria
168/5/96W.T.AF16 yrsFive weeks of cough, fever, weight lossTuberculosis
178/5/96R.Y.BM26 mthsDiarrhoea, vomiting, dehydrationDiarrhoea
188/5/96A.C.CM1 yrFever, cough, difficulty in breathingPneumonia

40.1  Public health surveillance

40.3  Analysis and interpretation of public health data