Practice across critical regions across Asia and Africa reveals that surveillance systems can save lives. With all the benefits of infectious disease surveillance networks, the need for sophisticated surveillance networks and digital solutions is imminent. Big data can be utilized to explore the distribution of diseases, animal reservoirs, habitats, drug resistance of pathogens, natural disasters, and political factors (Yang, 2017). Accurate information can save lives and prevent catastrophes. It can also benefit economies, especially in developing countries and rural areas, and force legal regulations.
Disease surveillance and action steps cannot be analyzed separately. By providing critical information, disease surveillance systems support early warning and action programs. Surveillance networks can be used to:
- Collect data and explore trends of a disease
- Identify patterns, risks, and vectors, including additional factors, such as drug sales and the number of children absent from school
- Improve early warning. Interestingly, an analysis conducted by Yang and colleagues (2017) revealed that the majority of early warning models include temporal, spatial, and regression algorithms. Note that modern technologies and methods, such as mathematical analyses and Monte Carlo techniques, can improve conventional early warning models.
- Evaluate measures and policies, as well as guide the use of vaccines (Yang, 2017)
- Support the implementation of control and prevention programs, at local, national, and international levels – at low infrastructure costs
- Benefit ecosystems and One Health approaches by connecting a wide variety of specialists (e.g., scientists, politicians, and analysts) and people (Mackenzie, 2013)
- Develop regulated protocols to answer the demands of international health regulations and data dissemination
- Foster digital health practices, including bioinformatics, AI, coding, systems engineering, and statistics
- Benefit research and pathogen discovery
As there are numerous applications of disease surveillance, which is an integrated factor for global health, Qolty can help experts concentrate their research on major aspects, such as:
Mass gatherings: Disease surveillance systems, including anticipatory and enhanced surveillance, are necessary to regulate mass gatherings, such as religious celebrations and sports events (Nsoesie et al., 2015). Note that researchers show that factors like close proximity may lead to outbreaks of both vaccine-preventable and non-vaccine-preventable conditions.
Global travel: Lower costs and access to travel may lead to emerging outbreaks. For instance, MERS, which was introduced to South Korea and spread across China, was brought by a traveler. Therefore, all data collected from mobile apps and wireless sensors is essential to support early warning and surveillance.
Food safety: Food safety is another global concern. Since humans, animals, and ecosystems are interconnected, bacteria, viruses, and parasites can enter species – with the foodborne route being the most common way of contamination (Mackenzie, 2013). A surveillance system can support the development of regulations and safety practices.
Wildlife: From hunting to farming, people are in close contact with animals. To set an example, the gray squirrels introduced from the US to the UK harmed the native red squirrels and became a pest to farmers, foresters, and conversationalists. Therefore, wildlife must be considered, given the increased pathogens that can infect humans and domestic animals.
Regions: Insufficient resources may challenge global health and disease surveillance. Therefore, any comprehensive system should support the mapping of poor and underrepresented areas and improve health outcomes worldwide. Digital tools can benefit text messaging, data exchange, and visualization. For instance, users can send messages, enter data or upload an existing file, which can be updated, visualized, and analyzed from everywhere across the globe. Note that live maps and geospatial information can benefit information about resource allocations.