Why surveillance and data are important to infectious disease control

Surveillance is a critical element in the control and elimination of infectious diseases, but is often poorly resourced, particularly in developing countries lacking good infrastructure.

Without a decent reporting system:

  1. Cases cannot be detected or responded to in time to prevent large outbreaks
  2. Strategic decisions cannot be made about when and where to focus control efforts
  3. Data on progress are not available for monitoring impact
  4. Data on cost-effectiveness are not available for assessing the sustainability of control programmes

In a nutshell: “Unless an effective reporting and surveillance programme is developed, there is no prospect whatsoever for a successful eradication programme” Donald A. Henderson 1970 (head of the WHO Global Smallpox Eradication Campaign)

Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) rabies elimination demonstration projects

Rabies is a disease of poverty and mainly affects children living in marginalized societies. Infected domestic dogs are responsible for over 99% of human rabies deaths today that occur in Africa and Asia, and the majority of these deaths occur in children. Rabies is a life-threatening risk for over 1 billion people living in poverty across Africa and Asia (www.worldbank.org). Rabies is virtually 100% preventable; proven interventions include human post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), improved educational awareness to prevent exposure, and eliminating or controlling the source of infection in dog populations.

The mission of GARC is to eliminate human deaths from rabies and to relieve the burden of rabies in animals, especially dogs. One of the major challenges to GARC, and other rabies elimination efforts, is being able to demonstrate the impact of their interventions, and for this they require evidence i.e. data generated from developed surveillance infrastructure and capacity.

Wise Monkey is working with GARC to develop the first custom-made rabies control project database, a system into which rabies-related data can be easily and cleanly entered and securely accessed. Wise Monkey is currently being trialed in GARC rabies elimination projects in:

More information on GARC can be found at http://www.rabiescontrol.net

For practical advice on implementing rabies control programmes, consult the rabies blueprint at http://www.rabiesblueprint.com


Henderson, D.A. (1970) Summary Status of the Global Programme. Inter-Regional Seminar on Surveillance and Assessment in Smallpox Eradication (ed. WHO/SE/WP/70.1), pp. 3. New Delhi.