Surveillance System Comparison Essay

Surveillance System Comparison
Surveillance System Comparison

Surveillance System Comparison

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Surveillance System Comparison
This section of your Scholar-Practitioner Project prompts you to explore modern surveillance systems applied at different levels of government related to the disease you selected. In addition, you describe the government’s responsibility to monitor and report at the four political levels. By understanding the reporting requirements of government, you are able to design your surveillance system to meet those requirements.

To complete this portion of your Scholar-Practitioner Project, write a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following:

  • Identify modern surveillance systems implemented at the local, state, regional, and national levels related to the disease you selected.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the modern systems in monitoring the disease you selected.
  • Analyze the government’s responsibilities for monitoring the disease/condition you selected at the different political levels (local, state, regional, and national). Include an explanation of how the reporting requirements differ at each level.
  • Suggest how you would apply any lessons learned in this exercise to the system you are constructing.


Surveillance System Comparison

Modern surveillance systems implemented at the local, state, regional, and national levels

Early warning surveillance systems are designed to create an early alert of a disease threat through the detection of mere presence of potentially infectious micro-organisms. Early warning surveillance systems are mostly monitored at the federal level. Syndromic surveillance deals with symptoms indicative of Ebola virus. This surveillance system providing real time monitoring for non-specific, prediagnostic indicators of disease outbreaks has been broadly adopted by cities, states and the national government. States use The Real Time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance System (RODS) in gathering data on symptoms of emergency room patients (Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats, 2007).

Situational awareness surveillance systems are used in monitoring the progress and outcome of an intervention for purposes of mitigating or stopping the progression of a communicable disease. Cities, states and the national government have shown a wide and multifaceted use of surveillance for describing and informing response throughout the entire period of an outbreak. Animal surveillance systems help in detecting transmission of the Ebola virus among animal and human populations over space and time, in addition to predicting future transmission patterns.
The effectiveness of the modern systems in monitoring Ebola virus

The modern surveillance systems assist local and state health departments in enhancing, designing, and developing means for rapid detection of Ebola outbreaks as well as other public health threats and emergencies. These surveillance systems enable the health departments to investigate and mitigate such outbreaks of part of a National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.  For instance, syndromic surveillance systems help in providing timelier identification of disease outbreaks than could be achieved through traditional surveillance systems. Nevertheless, sysndromic surveillance has been criticized for the few outbreaks that it has managed to detect and most people are doubtful as to its potential to perform better than alternative systems to alert the public health community to a problem.

The government’s responsibilities for monitoring Ebola virus at the different political levels (local, state, regional, and national)

In America, public health surveillance for infectious diseases occurs through a variety of local, state, regional and federal programs. Healthcare providers and others often report cases of ‘notifiable’ infectious disease as defined under local and state health codes to health departments. Accordingly, health department officials conduct a verification of the disease reports, monitor disease incidence, identify possible, and send the findings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies carry out an independent gathering and analysis of information for disease surveillance. Furthermore, the federal agencies fund national and international networks for disease surveillance laboratories which establish diagnostic tests and develop disease diagnostic research. Despite the CDC having set out guidelines for surveillance systems funded by the national government, there is a general lack of evaluation. In addition, so far there is barely any evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of massive national public health surveillance investments.

In conclusion, it is very important to note that effective surveillance requires a clear appreciation of the capabilities sought. When designing a surveillance system, I need to establish the phenomena that need detection, the populations in which detection is needed, and the data that would be most effective for that purpose. An effective surveillance system should be follow legally and professionally acceptable processes, be cost-effective, and have the ability to identify in an ongoing predictive, sensitive, simple, timely, standardized, and flexible manner the emergence of meaningful epidemiological phenomena as well as their particular associations. 


Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats. (2007). Global infectious disease surveillance and detection: Assessing the challenges – finding solutions, workshop summary. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

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