Disease surveillance is a global concern. In a world where international trade, migration of humans and animals, and ecological changes take place at a rapid pace, numerous infectious diseases and vectors have pandemic aptitudes. With life-threatening diseases spreading beyond borders, global health security is at risk, especially in developing countries. For instance, infectious viruses like Zika, SARS, and H5N1 have become a pandemic threat, revealing that adequate disease surveillance networks can save lives and economies. To set an example, it’s been documented that an effective surveillance system can decrease the magnitude of a SARS outbreak by one-third and its duration by one month (Mirza et al., 2013).
Disease surveillance networks have the potential to collect vital ecological and medical data and detect diseases in their early stages. A systematic review conducted by Choi and colleagues (2016) revealed that technologies could boost the capacities of standard disease surveillance systems. By integrating digital solutions, local and international networks can enhance rapid communication, engagement, early warning, and research, which will result in decreased disability, mortality, and poverty rates. To answer the newest demands of global health security, platforms like Qolty can help experts build effective surveillance networks and implement technological advancements in both practice and research.
Implement Disease Surveillance with Qolty
- Disease Surveillance: A Global Health Concern
- The Core of Disease Surveillance and Digital Solutions
- Types of Disease Surveillance and Benefits of Active Surveillance
- The Applications of Disease Surveillance Systems: Practice and Research
- Disease Surveillance Networks and Future Perspectives
Disease surveillance is essential for human-animal-ecosystem dynamics. Disease surveillance is defined as the ongoing task of collecting, analyzing and reporting data related to emerging infection outbreaks. From the accurate prediction of epidemics to the effective development of action plans, information can be utilized across different areas. One of the main applications surveillance systems have is an early warning, which is the process of informing and connecting individuals, institutions, and governments (Yang, 2017).
Although there are different types of surveillance systems with various purposes (e.g., early warning and evaluation of measures across countries), most traditional systems are hierarchical. In any hierarchical system, a clinician spots and reports a case, authorities conduct epidemiological and lab investigation, and governments take actions steps (Morse, 2014), which often is time-consuming and prone to errors. Therefore, advanced platforms like Qolty implement technologies to foster active outreach and improve active surveillance. It’s interesting to mention that both traditional and digital networks rely on four crucial aspects: data collection, characterization, analysis, and dissemination. When it comes to dissemination, information can be a double-edged sword: while it can benefit travelers and locals, governments and economies may be affected by unrestricted access of inaccurate information (Global Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection: Assessing the Challenges – Finding Solutions, Workshop Summary.).
Interestingly, the tech revolutions in healthcare and surveillance have led to various newly coined terms, as revealed by a comprehensive review conducted by Choi and colleagues (2016). Syndromic surveillance is one of the recent terms which refers to systems that detect disease outbreaks promptly. Biosurveillance relies on complex algorithms to identify threats before actual diagnoses. Infodemiology epidemiology, on the other hand, supports the distribution of information to inform public health. Infoveillance refers to longitudinal tracking and analyses of vital disease-related metrics. Digital surveillance opts to provide knowledge through the accurate analysis and distribution of digital data. Last but not least, real-time surveillance refers to the identification of any early signs, which can support measures and treatments.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 eminent. 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 map and geospatial information can benefit information about resource allocations.Technological solutions and healthcare practices are interconnected. The recent advancements in technology allow Qolty to support experts in the development of sophisticated study designs and disease surveillance systems. Data collection and integration across sources reveal impressive capabilities. Accurate information and visualization support the effective monitoring and analysis of infectious outbreaks, action steps, and resource allocations. As a result, disease surveillance systems can benefit early warning, evaluation of measures, and prevention of outbreaks.
In the end, the increased use of mobile phones allows people and governments from all over the globe to send information, report cases, and access data – all at decreased infrastructure costs. Big data, crowd-sourced information, and SMS become essential tools in surveillance. Online networks and apps enhance communication beyond borders and improve practices and research. Note that technology can boost laboratory advancements and pathogen discovery as well. In a nutshell, disease surveillance systems with their numerous capabilities and applications have the potential to improve global health and people’s well-being.Delespaul PAEG. (1995). Assessing schizophrenia in daily life the experience sampling method. UPM, Universitaire Pers Maastricht, University Library, Maastricht University.
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