Applications of Syndromic Surveillance in Resource Poor Settings

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Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study is to demonstrate how syndromic surveillance systems are being used in low-resource settings, to identify key best practices and considerations, and to describe the use of syndromic surveillance as a feasible solution to meeting the disease surveillance requirements in the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations (2005). Methods: Information on established syndromic surveillance systems was collected from peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings and searches through reference lists of papers, from the years 1998-2010. In addition, web pages of international health organizations, surveillance networks, and Ministries of Health were explored. After reviewing identified systems, eight were selected and examined in detail to extract transferable information. Results: The literature demonstrates the many successful syndromic surveillance efforts being implemented, and the variety of data sources, data transmission techniques, and analysis methodologies being instituted. Frequently, syndromic surveillance systems are a coordinated effort among several partners, supplement existing systems, incorporate both specific and non-specific disease detection, and are used in conjunction with laboratory-based surveillance. Conclusions: Though not without challenges, syndromic surveillance has the potential to serve as a valuable disease detection tool in resource-limited settings. Further examination and evaluation of these systems will benefit global disease surveillance capacity.

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