Evaluation of a syndromic surveillance for the early detection of outbreaks among military personnel in a tropical country

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Abstract

Background

To evaluate a new military syndromic surveillance system (2SE FAG) set up in French Guiana.

Methods

The evaluation was made using the current framework published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA. Two groups of system stakeholders, for data input and data analysis, were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires to assess timeliness, data quality, acceptability, usefulness, stability, portability and flexibility of the system. Validity was assessed by comparing the syndromic system with the routine traditional weekly surveillance system.

Results

Qualitative data showed a degree of poor acceptability among people who have to enter data. Timeliness analysis showed excellent case processing time, hindered by delays in case reporting. Analysis of stability indicated a high level of technical problems. System flexibility was found to be high. Quantitative data analysis of validity indicated better agreement between syndromic and traditional surveillance when reporting on dengue fever cases as opposed to other diseases.

Conclusions

The sophisticated technical design of 2SE FAG has resulted in a system which is able to carry out its role as an early warning system. Efforts must be concentrated on increasing its acceptance and use by people who have to enter data and decreasing the occurrence of the frequency of technical problems.

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