Τhe annual meeting of the national surveillance co-ordinators of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) took place in Stockholm on 5-6 December 2011. Dr Mellou, head of the foodborne/waterborne diseases unit of the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention, participated in the meeting on behalf of the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP).
During the first day of the meeting, the progress of the re-organization of surveillance at a European level, which began with the creation of TESSy and will end in March 2012, was summarized. The discussion focused on the objectives and priorities that should be identified, as well as proposals for the enhancement of surveillance. Country representatives raised their concerns, and expressed their thoughts and views on the future objectives of ECDC.
In brief, 17 disease-specific networks have been integrated in TESSy, and so far 53 surveillance reports have been published by ECDC. At present, enhancement of the geographic presentation of surveillance data using appropriate software is one of the priorities of ECDC. Towards this end, several programs have been launched to create software applications.
The following tools were described:
a) TSA (time series analysis), which will be available for the member states
b) OPEN TESSy DATASET, using the statistical package STATA Biostatistics
c) Advice Request and Response Management System (BARRMS), which is an easy search tool for retrieving information on statistical analysis (e.g. STATA do files), development of which be completed soon (by April 2012)
d) ΕCDC Map Maker Application (EMMA), a geographic information system.
Moreover, the EPIS (Epidemic Information System) communication platform, which formerly referred exclusively to foodborne diseases and zoonoses, is gradually incorporating other types of diseases (vaccine-preventable diseases are the next to be integrated), while a program for the integration of molecular epidemiological data (PFGE, MLVA) in the database of TESSy has already been launched. At the same time, a project for the creation of a monitoring manual and evaluation of the surveillance systems, at both national and European levels, involving 22 epidemiologists and specialists in information technology from 16 countries, has been launched.
Moreover, query searches through the TESSy database and data search tools currently being designed were described.
During the second day of the meeting, participants were divided into four working groups. The groups were asked to focus on some key questions, and the conclusions were made available to ECDC.
Four topics were discussed: a) the tools for statistical analysis and geographic visualization and their practical application, b) the innovations in presenting surveillance data, focusing on online search tools, c) the surveillance and co-ordination of actions in the case of an emergency (including the establishment of joint risk assessment reports), and d) the quality of epidemiological surveillance data.
Overall, it was a very useful meeting during which the priorities of ECDC regarding surveillance were set, in compliance with the feedback received from the member states.
Kassiani Mellou Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention