In Study Sessions 3–39, you have studied the major communicable diseases in Ethiopia. Communicable diseases spread easily from person to person in the community and can cause many illnesses and deaths. In this study session you will learn in detail about public health surveillance, which consists of close observation, recording and reporting of cases of important communicable diseases or conditions in your community. A good understanding of public health surveillance will enable you to detect the occurrence of excess cases of communicable diseases in your locality (that is, more than expected), and report them to the higher authorities.
Using public health surveillance data, you can also assess the magnitude (or burden) of major communicable diseases in your locality by counting the number of cases occurring over a period of time. Collecting and analysing public health data will help you to plan appropriate measures to control communicable diseases, for example, distributing appropriate medicines and educating the community about disease prevention. This study session will describe in detail the basic concepts of public health surveillance, the types of surveillance and the activities you will undertake in recording and reporting disease.