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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 2007 Disease Surveillance Workshop. Disease Surveillance: Role of Public Health Informatics

Open Access Proceedings

Electronic public health surveillance in developing settings: meeting summary

Jean-Paul Chretien1* and Sheri Happel Lewis2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (DoD-GEIS), Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

2 Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USA

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BMC Proceedings 2008, 2(Suppl 3):S1  doi:

Published: 14 November 2008

Abstract

In some high-income countries, public health surveillance includes systems that use computer and information technology to monitor health data in near-real time, facilitating timely outbreak detection and situational awareness. In September 2007, a meeting convened in Bangkok, Thailand to consider the adaptation of near-real time surveillance methods to developing settings. Thirty-five participants represented Ministries of Health, universities, and militaries in 13 countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The keynote presentation by a WHO official underscored the importance of improved national capacity for epidemic surveillance and response under the new International Health Regulations, which entered into force in June 2007. Other speakers presented innovative electronic surveillance systems for outbreak detection and disease reporting in developing countries, and methodologies employed in near-real time surveillance systems in the United States. During facilitated small- and large-group discussion, participants identified key considerations in four areas for adapting near-real time surveillance to developing settings: software, professional networking, training, and data acquisition and processing. This meeting was a first step in extending the benefits of near-real time surveillance to developing settings. Subsequent steps should include identifying funding and partnerships to pilot-test near-real time surveillance methods in developing areas.