Surveillance systems for neglected tropical diseases: global lessons from China's evolving schistosomiasis reporting systems, 1949-2014.


Though it has been a focus of the country's public health surveillance systems since the 1950s, schistosomiasis represents an ongoing public health challenge in China. Parallel, schistosomiasis-specific surveillance systems have been essential to China's decades-long campaign to reduce the prevalence of the disease, and have contributed to the successful elimination in five of China's twelve historically endemic provinces, and to the achievement of morbidity and transmission control in the other seven. More recently, an ambitious goal of achieving nation-wide transmission interruption by 2020 has been proposed. This paper details how schistosomiasis surveillance systems have been structured and restructured within China's evolving public health system, and how parallel surveillance activities have provided an information system that has been integral to the characterization of, response to, and control of the disease. With the ongoing threat of re-emergence of schistosomiasis in areas previously considered to have achieved transmission control, a critical examination of China's current surveillance capabilities is needed to direct future investments in health information systems and to enable improved coordination between systems in support of ongoing control. Lessons drawn from China's experience are applied to the current global movement to reduce the burden of helminthiases, where surveillance capacity based on improved diagnostics is urgently needed.

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