Funded by the EU, researchers on the ISSC (An integrated surveillance system for infectious disease in rural China: Generating evidence for early detection of disease epidemics in resource-poor settings) project worked to design, implement and evaluate an early warning mechanism using state-of-the-art medical and geographical information systems. The system was designed and introduced as a pilot study in 4 county hospitals, 6 township hospitals, 81 village health stations, 14 pharmacies and 24 primary schools. It relies heavily on collecting and analysing large amounts of data in real time to predict disease outbreaks (also called syndromic surveillance). ISSC's pilot study ran successfully for six months, after which the system was formally launched in four rural Chinese counties for two years. During this time, the project team collected data to analyse and evaluate the situation. Researchers also analysed the economic and scientific feasibility of the system to support the possibility of nationwide deployment. Overall, the project found that the syndromic surveillance system could work alongside existing reporting systems for early warning of infectious disease outbreaks. Importantly, local governments in China showed strong interest in implementing an ISSC system. If successful, ISSC has the potential to offer not only a local but also a worldwide impact on the spread of infectious diseases.
Epidemic, early warning system, infectious disease, hospitals, syndromic surveillance