Steps and Functions of Surveillance Systems

by Carolina on December 17, 2009

Author: Dr. Arana

Surveillance is undertaken to inform disease prevention and control measures. This systematic and continuous system follows some steps and functions to enable design procedures and methodologies to be developed in order to have effective surveillance systems that support ongoing researches and public health actions. In Figure 1, there is a description of the flow of data and the lines of response in a surveillance system that can help assess the simplicity or complexity of the system, following for Figure 2, which describes the steps of a surveillance system.

Simplified Flow Chart for a Generic Surveillance System

Simplified example of steps in a surveillance system

MMWR (2001) Updated Guidelines for Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems

Surveillance is the foundation of all efforts to understand and control and prevent disease    . Once a health-related event occurs, such as infectious, chronic or zoonotic disease; injury; adverse exposure; risk factor or protective behavior; or other surveilled events associated with public health, identification and definition of cases will be in placed. During this time cases will be identified and analyzed by place, person, and time. After this period, report generation and dissemination begins including reporting sources as health care providers, physicians, veterinarians, laboratories, health-care organizations, schools, vital records, hospitals, among others, and data recipients at different levels: county and state health department, and federal agencies. At this point management of the data is the key of the entire surveillance system. Following the collection, entry, editing, storage, analysis, and reporting of data, dissemination and feedback of information is used for public health action to control and prevent disease. In this way, the generic surveillance system can measure the impact of community’s health from any health-related event.

On the other hand, it is important to recognize the functions that a surveillance system should perform in order to be effective. This functions include: detection and notification of health events, collection and consolidation of pertinent data, investigation and confirmation (epidemiological, clinical and/or laboratory) of cases or outbreaks, routine analysis and creation of reports, feedback of information to those providing the data, feed-forward of data, and reporting data (MMWR 2004).

Having in place all the steps required to a successful generic surveillance system, public health surveillance will provide the scientific and factual database essential to inform decision making and appropriate public health action. The key objective of this system is to provide information to guide interventions.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

mohammad ibrahim yakasai December 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

what are the relative of Steps and Functions of Surveillance Systems for the human society?

Berdina Williams August 21, 2015 at 9:30 am

Very useful information. I wish to receive subsequent updates from you.

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