Public Health Surveillance

Tuesday 21st March 2023

What is public health surveillance?

Public health surveillance is the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data on specific health events for use in the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programmes.

Communicable disease surveillance is the continuous monitoring of the frequency and the distribution of disease, and death, due to infections that can be transmitted from human to human or from animals, food, water or the environment to humans, and the monitoring of risk factors for those infections.

Public health surveillance also encompasses non-communicable conditions including injury, for example poisonings.

Why do we undertake surveillance?

  • Estimate magnitude of the problem
  • Determine geographic distribution of illness
  • Portray the natural history of a disease
  • Detect epidemics/define a problem
  • Generate hypotheses, stimulate research
  • Evaluate control measures
  • Monitor changes in infectious agents
  • Detect changes in health practices
  • Facilitate planning

What surveillance is ESR currently responsible for?

ESR provides a range of training opportunities through the epidemiological skills development programme. The aim of this programme is to strengthen the capacity of the New Zealand public health workforce to identify, investigate and control outbreaks of infectious and aberrant diseases. More information on the programme and its courses can be found here.

Historical data and reports for chemical injuries and spraydrift surveillance can be found here





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