Surveillance Strategy Report — Moving Public Health Surveillance Ahead

ER, Data, Lab

Moving Ahead

As this report highlights, our efforts over the last few years to improve public health surveillance have, indeed, moved us forward. We’ve made progress within a focused, but limited, scope. We’ve also learned some important lessons that will inform our next steps.

The section of the report on these pages, Moving Ahead, gives a vision for the future.

  • Read this section of the report by clicking on the buttons below.
  • To go to the previous section of the report, click on the link, Innovation,

“In public health, we can’t do anything without surveillance.

That’s where public health begins.”
— David Satcher, MD, PhD, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1993–1998

Visit Conversations with CDC Surveillance Experts to learn how surveillance works from tracking everyday issues, like food poisoning, to understanding how we capture and report vital statistics, to linking public health with healthcare.

Public Health Surveillance is Always Evolving

Just in the past two decades, we’ve witnessed public health’s evolution from monitoring infectious diseases to tracking the occurrence of many noninfectious conditions, such as injuries, birth defects, chronic conditions, mental illness, illicit drug use, and environmental and occupational exposures to health risks. With this widened surveillance lens, we must be open to new data sources and methods and preserve the essential systems in place.

Public Health Surveillance Requires Connectivity

It may take time, but the sum of our efforts are greater than the parts. We must connect data locally, nationally, and globally. We must do things electronically and automated whenever we can. We must also find enterprise-wide solutions at CDC that promote efficiency and reduce reporting burden on partners.

Public Health Surveillance Relies on Continual Improvement

As the topics of surveillance have evolved, so have the methods of surveillance, spurred by rapid advances in information technology. Given the proliferation of data systems, new tools and technologies, and new workforce needs, we must be open to a new way of doing business.

Our biggest lesson is that the work is not done. We have an obligation to keep our nation safe, healthy, and secure. We must therefore continue our efforts—and commit to doing much more—to improve what we can, where we can, on a continual basis. We can’t afford not to.