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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2008 Mar;12(3 Suppl 1):8-16.

Electronic tuberculosis surveillance systems: a tool for managing today's TB programs.

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Global AIDS Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


The World Health Organization (WHO) released the Stop TB Strategy in 2006, along with a revised version of the tuberculosis (TB) recording and reporting forms and register. These publications illustrate the need for an enhanced TB surveillance system that will include such key elements as rapid assessment of the quality of DOTS services; integration and response to the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic; TB control challenges, such as increased smear-negative and extra-pulmonary TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB); increased engagement of all care providers, such as private health care services and the community; and promotion of research to support program improvement. Electronic surveillance systems utilize computer technology to facilitate the capture, transfer and reporting of the WHO-recommended TB data elements. Electronic surveillance offers several potential advantages over the traditional paper-based systems used in many low-resource settings, such as improved data quality and completeness, more feasible links to other health care programs, quality-enhanced data entry and analysis features and increased data security. These advantages must, however, be weighed against the requirements and costs of electronic surveillance, including implementation and support of a quality paper-based surveillance system and the additional costs associated with infrastructure, training and human resources for the implementation and continuing support of an electronic system. Using examples from three different electronic TB surveillance systems that are being implemented in various resource-limited settings, this article demonstrates the feasibility, requirements and value of such systems to support the WHO-recommended enhancement of TB surveillance.

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