A1. Surveillance and assessment of the population’s health and wellbeing

The World Health Organisation site has this definition of “Public health surveillance”

Public health surveillance is the continuous, systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health-related data needed for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice. Such surveillance can:

  • serve as an early warning system for impending public health emergencies;
  • document the impact of an intervention, or track progress towards specified goals; and
  • monitor and clarify the epidemiology of health problems, to allow priorities to be set and to inform public health policy and strategies.

Here are some examples of surveillance from the first #ScotPublicHealth Storify

Example 1. This example (on physical activity) is from an infographic shared by @docandrewmurray. It is produced from information from national physical activity surveys plus other routinely collected healthcare data.


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Example 2. This is from enhanced surveillance for meningococcal disease, with health protection teams returning information to Health Protection Scotland on individual meningococcal cases. This illustrates massive drop in cases following introduction of new vaccines, as illustrated in this tweet:

Huge impact of Men C vaccine (💉1999) Men B & Men ACWY 2015


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Example 3. Surveillance is a continuous process with practical uses. For example falling vaccine uptake leaves children at risk. Surveillance allows public health teams to plan a response.


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Example 4. Similarly, child health surveillance helps NHS & education services plan support for children


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Example 5. The UK Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme  collects information on mortality to track progress and identify areas for further work.


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Surveillance is one the Faculty of Public Health’s 9 areas of Public Health

Graham Mackenzie 30.12.15 Cynergy_Graham MacKenzie_509 (1)

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