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Role of a sentinel surveillance system in the context of global surveillance of infectious diseases.
Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2004 Mar 1; 4(3):171-177.In some nation states, sustained integrated global epidemiological surveillance has been weakened as a result of political unrest, disinterest, and a poorly developed infrastructure due to rapidly increasing global inequality. The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome has shown vividly the importance of sensitive worldwide surveillance. The Agency for Cooperation in International Health, a Japanese non-governmental organisation, has developed on a voluntary basis a sentinel surveillance system for selected target infectious diseases, covering South America, Africa, and Asia. The system has uncovered unreported infectious diseases of international importance including cholera, plague, and influenza; current trends of acute flaccid paralysis surveillance in polio eradication; and prevalence of HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C in individual areas covered by the sentinels. Despite a limited geographical coverage, the system seems to supplement disease information being obtained by global surveillance. Further development of this sentinel surveillance system would be desirable to contribute to current global surveillance efforts, for which, needless to say, national surveillance and alert system takes principal responsibility. (excerpt)