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Glob Public Health. 2012;7(7):682-94. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2012.699713. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Sustaining surveillance: evaluating syndromic surveillance in the Pacific.

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  • 1Hunter Medical Research Institute, Wallsend, Australia.


Prior to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) had agreed to develop a standardised, simple syndromic surveillance system to ensure compliance with International Health Regulations requirements (rapid outbreak detection, information sharing and response to outbreaks). In October 2010, the new system was introduced and over the next 12 months implemented in 20 of 22 PICTs. An evaluation was conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses of the system, ease of use and possible points for improvement. An in-country quantitative and qualitative evaluation in five PICTs identified that the most important determinants of the system's success were: simplicity of the system; support from all levels of government; clearly defined roles and responsibilities; feedback to those who collect the data; harmonisation of case definitions; integration of data collection tools into existing health information systems; and availability of clinical and epidemiological advice from external agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Regional reporting of alerts, outbreaks and outbreak updates has dramatically increased since implementation of the system. This syndromic system will assist PICTs to detect future influenza pandemics and other emerging infectious diseases and to rapidly contain outbreaks in the Pacific.

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