Disease Surveillance Developing Countries

Disease Surveillance Developing Countries

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Question one

Describe tuberculosis and the developing country of South Africa.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable disease known to affect many people especially in most developing countries in Africa. South Africa being one of the developing countries in Africa and has recorded high TB prevalence in reference of World Health Organization (WHO) reports. By the year 2011, the country recorded more than 500,000 cases of active TB infections. According to World Health Organization (2013), approximately 50 million citizens develop active TB viruses each year and the process has increased by 400 percent in the past 15 years. The above statistics ranks South Africa third to have recorded high active TB incidences from China and India. Because TB is an airborne disease, most of the disease prevalence is common on people working on mines due to exposure to dust. On the other hand, most people in South Africa suffer from Silicosis that affects people suffering from high TB levels.

Question two

Describe the current monitoring procedures used in the developing country of South Africa.

Because of high TB prevalence in South Africa, the Department of Health has devised different methods of monitoring the disease in an effort to treat and minimize infections. To start with, patients diagnosed with active TB incidences undergo sputum analysis usually carried out on weekly basis until the sputum conversion. Monitoring for baseline and periodic liver enzymes, serum creatinine, and complete blood cell (CBC) also take place. On the other hand, the country has implemented a National Tuberculosis Control Program that works to minimize cases of TB infection in South Africa. In addition, the program assists in preventing the development of drug resistance cases, and ensures effective measures are taken for the success of the program. The South African Department of Health also calls for isolation of people with possible TB infections in private rooms with high efficient particulate air filter. The following monitoring process aims at reducing TB infection to other people, and provides doctors with humble time to treat infected patients until sputum smears become negative (Department of Health, South Africa, 2012).

Question three

Provide a rationale as to why South Africa would greatly benefit from a disease surveillance system

According to Lombardo & Buckeridge (2007), the implementation of a disease surveillance system provides powers and capability of monitoring occurrences and spread of diseases. Most developing countries on the world have not fully implemented disease surveillance systems because of lack of enough finances to support the program. South Africa’s economy has the capability of supporting a disease surveillance system that would bring the following benefits. Firstly, the system provides an effective means of collecting, managing, analyzing and interpreting health data on diseases infections nationwide. Secondly, a disease surveillance system in South Africa would assist in developing and maintaining health standards applied in other developed countries. Thirdly, a disease surveillance system would enable the South Africa Department of Health maintain a national disease statistics, and work with other countries and partners in implementing and accessing prevention and control programs.

Question four

Describe two additional special features that should be part of surveillance system in South Africa.

In developing a public health disease surveillance system, the following factors should be considered.

The overall number of cases, prevalence, and incidences

Preventability, and

Indices of severity like mortality rates and case-fatality ratio.

Considering the above factors, the South Africa TB surveillance system should have the following two additional special features. The first feature is a video management system. The video management system enables fast and efficient viewing of live and recorded video in a user-friendly manner. The system should use video management software applications that enable multiple users to view the video in various modes. The second special feature of a surveillance system is the mapping application. This application makes use of Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping that provides the health specialists with additional features needed in support of large-scale deployment of sensor systems. The sensor systems help in monitoring border and perimeter security ensuring global defense and security. The approach aids in preventing the spread of diseases from other countries (Chen, Zeng & Yan, 2010).

Question five

Describe challenges of public health officials’ face in establishing disease surveillance system in South Africa.

According to Morens, Folkers & Fauci (2004), establishing a disease surveillance system especially in developing countries has many challenges ranging from finances to low technology levels. Firstly, once disease prevalence becomes high, the public health spends more money on campaigns to educate the public on how to prevent infections. Campaigns decrease the number of cases and developing systems that ensure total eradication of the disease becomes expensive. Most developing countries suffer from this effect and find it hard establishing a disease surveillance system capable of controlling all communicable diseases. Secondly, poor technology and lack of adequately experienced public health staffs limits the development of disease surveillance systems in South Africa. Lack of effective modern technology prevents the country from utilizing modern and more computerized disease surveillance systems. In addition, the country lacks professionals in controlling such systems and hiring people from outside costs the Department of Health many finances.

Question six

Describe how you would address these challenges

The most crucial challenge facing implementation of disease surveillance systems in South Africa is lack of finances. To address this issue, the South African government should borrow assistance from developed countries like United States of America. In addition, the Department of Health should seek money from donors like WHO and UN to fund their projects. Secondly, the Department of Health should introduce training causes for their staff to educate them on how to utilize the emerging technologies. Moreover, the government should equip its healthcare centers with modern technology equipments to ensure efficient communication of information from all surveillance centers.


Chen, H., Zeng, D., & Yan, P. (2010). Infectious disease informatics syndromic surveillance for

public health and biodefense. New York: Springer.

Department of Health, South Africa. (2012). Annual Performance Plan 2012/13-2014/15.

Retrieved from:

http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/stratdocs/2012/app2012.pdfLombardo, J. S., & Buckeridge, D. L. (Eds.). (2007). Disease surveillance: A public health

informatics approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Interscience.

Morens, D. M., Folkers, G. K., & Fauci, A. S. (2004). The challenge of emerging and

re-emerging infectious diseases. Nature, 430(6996), 242–249.

World Health Organization. (2013). South Africa. Retrieved from: