Surveillance is defined as:
Continuous analysis, interpretation and feedback of systematically collected data, generally using methods distinguished by their practicability, uniformity and rapidity.
The NICD conducts laboratory-based surveillance for a number of communicable diseases. Diseases under surveillance include:
- Epidemic-prone diseases to facilitate early outbreak identification and control e.g. meningococcal disease, typhoid, shigellosis and viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHF).
- Vaccine-preventable diseases to monitor the success of national vaccination programmes and guide priorities in choices of introduction of new vaccines e.g. polio, measles, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Diseases targeted for eradication or elimination to monitor the quality of clinical surveillance systems and to comply with international standards for surveillance e.g. polio and measles
- Opportunistic infections associated with HIV infection which may provide an indirect marker of the burden of AIDS-related infections e.g. Cryptococcus spp., S. pneumoniae and invasive Salmonella spp. infection
In the current global climate with increasing recognition of the potential for rapid international spread of emerging infections there is a growing emphasis on the importance of laboratory based surveillance in all countries. The NICD supports the core capacity for surveillance in International Health Regulations (IHR) by the 58th World Health Assembly on May 23, 2005. These regulations outline the core capabilities required for all countries to identify and respond to health threats.