Nuvey FS, et al. Evaluation of the sentinel surveillance system for influenza-like illnesses in the Greater Accra region, Ghana, 2018. PLoS One. 2019 Mar 14;14(3):e0213627
Influenza-like Illness (ILI) is a medical diagnosis of possible influenza or another respiratory illness with a common set of symptoms. The deaths of four schoolchildren, during a pandemic influenza outbreak in December 2017 in Ghana, raised doubts about the ILI surveillance system´s performance. We evaluated the ILI surveillance system in the Greater Accra region, Ghana, to assess the system´s attributes and its performance on set objectives.
CDC guidelines were used to evaluate the data of the ILI surveillance system between 2013 and 2017. We interviewed the surveillance personnel on the system´s description and operation. Additionally, routinely entered ILI data from the National Influenza Center provided by the six sentinel sites in Accra was extracted. We sampled and reviewed 120 ILI case-investigation forms from these sites. Surveillance activities were examined on system´s performance indicators, each being scored on a scale of 1 to 3 (poorest to best performance).
All population and age groups were under ILI surveillance over the period evaluated. Overall, 2948 suspected case-patients, including 392 (13.3%) children under-five were reported, with 219 being positive for influenza virus (Predictive value positive = 7.4%). The predominant influenza subtype was H3N2, recorded in 90 (41.1%) of positive case-patients. The system only met two out of its four objectives. None of the six sentinel sites consistently met their annual 260 suspected case-detection quota. Samples reached the laboratory on average 48 hours after collection and results were disseminated within 7 days. Of 120 case-investigation forms sampled, 91 (76.3%) were completely filled in.
The ILI surveillance system in the Greater Accra region is only partially meeting its objectives. While it is found to be sensitive, representative and timely, the data quality was sub-optimal. We recommend the determination of thresholds for alert and outbreak detection and ensuring that sentinel sites meet their weekly case-detection targets.
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