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    The role of name-based notification in public health and HIV surveillance.

    Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS [UNAIDS]

    Geneva, Switzerland, UNAIDS, 2000 Jul. 47 p. (UNAIDS Best Practice Collection. Key Material; UNAIDS/00.28E)

    Surveillance is the radar of public health. Nevertheless, its precise contours and justifications remain a matter of contention. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiological Surveillance Unit in the Division of Communicable Diseases has defined disease surveillance quite broadly, most public health authorities, such as the United States Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and the World Health Assembly, typically identify three key elements of surveillance. Surveillance involves the ongoing, systematic collection of health data, the evaluation and interpretation of these data for the purpose of shaping public health practice and outcomes, and the prompt dissemination of the results to those responsible for disease prevention and control. Surveillance, then, encompasses more than just disease reporting. "The critical challenge in public health surveillance today," conclude two prominent figures who have helped to define surveillance in the United States, "remains the ensurance of its usefulness." Two issues emerge from this understanding of surveillance. The first entails a question of efficacy. The second involves matters of privacy. Although conceptually distinct, the two are nevertheless intimately related. While the necessities of surveillance may justifiably limit some elements of privacy, such limitations are only justifiable to the extent that they in fact benefit the public's health. (excerpt)
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