Distinguished University Professor of Health Science and Policy
University of Pittsburgh
The use of high quality disease surveillance data has become increasingly important for public health action against new threats. In response, countries have developed a wide range of disease surveillance systems enabled by technological advancements. The heterogeneity and complexity of country data systems have caused a growing need for international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to coordinate the standardization, integration, and dissemination of country disease data at the global level for research and policy. The availability and consistency of currently available disease surveillance data at the global level are unclear. We investigated this for dengue surveillance data provided online by the WHO.
The decline of publicly available, integrated dengue surveillance data at the global level will limit opportunities for research, policy, and advocacy. A new financial and operational framework will be necessary for innovation and for the continued availability of integrated country disease data at the global level.
We extracted all dengue surveillance data provided online by WHO Headquarters and Regional Offices (RO's). We assessed the availability and consistency of these data by comparing indicators within and between sources. We also assessed the consistency of dengue data provided online by two example countries (Brazil and Indonesia). Data were available from WHO for 100 countries since 1955 representing a total of 23 million dengue cases and 82 thousand deaths ever reported to WHO. The availability of data on DengueNet and some RO's declined dramatically after 2005. Consistency was lacking between sources (84% across all indicators representing a discrepancy of almost half a million cases). Within sources, data at high spatial resolution were often incomplete.