Surveillance and Data Management
Surveillance is the ongoing and systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and distribution of health data in the process of describing and monitoring sexually transmitted disease trends. This information can assist programs to better plan, implement, and evaluate efforts to control STDs. For this reason, surveillance is a core public health function and must be considered one of the most essential and of the highest priority in any HIV/STD Prevention Program.
Surveillance supports public health efforts by providing a framework for:
Problem detection—surveillance identifies the emergence of a disease as well as changes in the levels of existing endemic disease. Certain diseases, while not initially perceived as a problem in the population as a whole, may be a significant problem for specific sub-populations.
Problem description—surveillance presents a picture of disease transmission; describes both geographic and temporal trends in disease occurrence and, populations affected, and changes in disease-causing agents (e.g., antibiotic resistance of microorganisms); and can identify factors causing disease occurrence.
Problem solving—surveillance provides information needed to develop and implement strategies for disease control and prevention. It helps develop priorities for the proper allocation of resources necessary to deal with problems and provide a trigger mechanism to activate a public health response to a problem. Surveillance is also used to generate or confirm a hypothesis.
Evaluation—surveillance data is used to determine how well a public health response addressed a specific health problem. It also provides a basis for predicting patterns of disease.