Emerging disease surveillance and response


Notifiable diseases surveillance

All member states have established notified disease surveillance systems. WHO is receiving data on notifiable diseases on a regular basis. Data is stored in a database and analyzed at Western Pacific Regional Office. To disseminate this information, the first issue of Western Pacific Regional Office Communicable Diseases Bulletin was published in November 1999. Electronic data entry system using Internet is now under being tested to facilitate quick reporting and feedback.

Proposed new surveillance system

Although a notifiable disease surveillance system has been providing valuable information on communicable diseases in the Region, the current system is not efficient enough to detect outbreaks promptly in many countries and areas. To strengthen capacities to detect outbreaks, WHO is proposing a new surveillance system to incorporate

  • active surveillance rather than passive case finding;
  • integrated approach;
  • clear and universal case definitions; and
  • rapid reporting, data analysis and feedback.

Laboratory Network

Laboratory support is an essential component for high-quality communicable disease surveillance. Clinical diagnosis should be confirmed by the laboratory testing. Laboratory analyses also provide useful information for control and prevention such as subtypes, drug susceptibility, and the source of infections. Collaborating Centres in the Region have been established to provide laboratory support. These collaborating centres cover different diseases including arbovirus, influenza, viral hepatitis, leptospirosis, zoonoses, HTLV-I, Hantavirus and dengue.

Regional reference laboratories have also been identified for other important diseases such as cholera. Laboratory networks for different diseases are to be established, which involve regional, national and peripheral laboratories. In collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), a Pacific Public Health Network is also to be in place to improve laboratory diagnosis in the Pacific islands countries and areas.

Network on antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing concern worldwide in both developed and developing countries. It is important to monitor resistant patterns regularly. To achieve this, a Network on Antimicrobial Resistance was initiated in 1990 in the Region. The surveillance targets 26 bacteria that are of public health importance. There are 14 focal laboratories in 13 countries and areas. The laboratories annually report drug resistance data for four to 15 antibiotics for each bacterium to the Regional Office. The Regional Office then accumulates the data and publishes the results as annual reports.

Global Programme on Antimicrobial Resistance

International Health Regulation

The current International Health Regulation (IHR) has been in force since 1971. It has served to provide an international code of practice to ensure maximum security against the international spread of communicable diseases (i.e. cholera, yellow fever and plague). The IHR is currently being revised to address to other diseases of international health importance.