Public health surveillance is the on-going systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data. It includes the timely dissemination of the resulting information to those who need them for action. Surveillance is also essential for planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practise.
When linked to policy and programme units, data from surveillance systems improves the efficiency and effectiveness of health systems in the Region. It is a tool that is used to estimate the health status and behaviour of the populations served by ministries of health, ministries of finance, and donors.
The Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) links epidemiologic and laboratory data in communicable disease surveillance systems at all levels of a health system. It is a complex system that takes into account both active and passive surveillance systems. Active employs staff member to contact health care providers while passive receives reports submitted from hospitals, clinics, public health units, or other sources.
A common concern lies between the production of data and the ability to convert the data into usable information that facilitates appropriate public health action. Donors need this information to target and evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of their investments.