The Importance of Surveillance

I really do like Bill Gates’ recent NYT op-ed. But, at the same time, this section makes my head get a little explodey:

To begin with, most poor countries, where a natural epidemic is most likely to start, have no systematic disease surveillance in place. Even once the Ebola crisis was recognized last year, there were no resources to effectively map where cases occurred, or to use people’s travel patterns to predict where the disease might go next.

It’s not that he’s wrong–far from it. But time was, the Gates Foundation didn’t think surveillance–and the improvements in clinical diagnosis a surveillance network forces–was a worthwhile intervention. You can’t really ‘disrupt’ an infrastructure that is essentially non-existent.

Glad to see the change, though it’s worth noting that surveillance is still woefully underfunded (just met with a couple of people recently who do this very sort of thing and the funding situation doesn’t seem to have improved much).

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