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Can J Public Health. 2006 Jan-Feb;97(1):42-4.

The Global Public Health Intelligence Network and early warning outbreak detection: a Canadian contribution to global public health.

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Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The recent SARS epidemic has renewed widespread concerns about the global transmission of infectious diseases. In this commentary, we explore novel approaches to global infectious disease surveillance through a focus on an important Canadian contribution to the area--the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). GPHIN is a cutting-edge initiative that draws on the capacity of the Internet and newly available 24/7 global news coverage of health events to create a unique form of early warning outbreak detection. This commentary outlines the operation and development of GPHIN and compares it to ProMED-mail, another Internet-based approach to global health surveillance. We argue that GPHIN has created an important shift in the relationship of public health and news information. By exiting the pyramid of official reporting, GPHIN has created a new monitoring technique that has disrupted national boundaries of outbreak notification, while creating new possibilities for global outbreak response. By incorporating news within the emerging apparatus of global infectious disease surveillance, GPHIN has effectively responded to the global media's challenge to official country reporting of outbreak and enhanced the effectiveness and credibility of international public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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