Assignment: NURS 4115 Epidemiology in Public and Global Health
Note: You were introduced to this Assignment in Week 2 and will submit your work this week.
By Day 7 of Week 3
Submit a 3- to 4-page paper that includes the following:
A summary of the article, including the title and author
Identify the title of the article with in-text citation and corresponding reference in reference list
The relationship among causal agents, susceptible persons, and environmental factors (epidemiological triangle)
The role of the nurse in addressing the outbreak
Possible health promotion/health protection strategies that could have been implemented by nurses to mitigate the outbreak
Epidemiology is the study of disease in populations. Veterinarians and others involved in the preventive medicine and public health professions use epidemiological methods for disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, and observational studies to identify risk factors of zoonotic disease in both human and animal populations. Knowledge of these risk factors is used to direct further research investigation and to implement disease control measures. The use of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) systems depends greatly on information produced by epidemiological studies. Epidemiological methods are used for disease surveillance to identify which hazards are the most important. Epidemiological studies are also used to identify risk factors which may represent critical control points in the food production system.
This issue of Epidemiologic Reviews focuses on global health, a term that has come into use since this journal was started. Global health is a new and evolving field, and its definition has proved elusive and even contentious (1, 2). An experienced group of practitioners proposed a definition that implied a new multidisciplinary field with a focus broader than the traditional domains of public health and international health (1). In response, a recent commentary from leaders in US schools of public health finds little distinction between “global health” and “public health” (2). The scope of papers in this global-health-themed issue of Epidemiologic Reviews reflects the broad reach of those involved in global health research, regardless of the definitional debate, and the central place of long-established epidemiologic approaches in this emerging and ever-expanding field.
As with all public health topics, the problems inherent in global health need to be identified, quantified, and tracked. Several reviews in the issue are concerned with the methods used for these purposes. Castillo-Salgado (3) provides a comprehensive review of global health surveillance. The methods and principles covered are those of surveillance generally, no different from the classic description by Langmuir in 1963 (4). However, coverage has shifted to a global level, not only raising the complexity of cooperation among nations but also addressing difficult surveillance and health systems issues, as well as serious deficiencies in the infrastructure required for efficient monitoring and reporting of diseases. The review also probes the role of the new edition of the International Health Regulations (5) and the rapid development of new global public health networks for disease surveillance and bioterrorism. Examples such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the pandemic of H1N1 influenza are utilized to identify the various issues required to be tackled in establishing global health surveillance systems. As with many problems in global health, capacity building is urgently needed in some areas in which disease surveillance is lacking or insufficient. It is evident that these new directions of global surveillance are transforming and driving the function and form of public health in a globalized world. The World Health Organization has a critical role in coordinating the multilateral response to emerging infectious diseases and other health threats.
Methods for surveillance have become more sophisticated, reflecting advances in data systems, surveillance methodology, and analytic methods. Brookmeyer (6) reviews the methods used to track the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic, now followed for nearly 30 years. Over this time period, data sources and methods for assessing incidence and prevalence have changed, and these changes have led to new figures and discontinuities of the new figures with prior figures. Brookmeyer’s analysis highlights the need to maintain continuity of tracking, even as advances enhance surveillance. The ability to differentiate between changes in HIV/AIDS surveillance data on a yearly basis due to changes in methodology versus real changes in the underlying epidemic will be critically important in monitoring trends in this disease as well as others. The “lessons learned” from HIV/AIDS surveillance are predictive of challenges that will inevitably come regarding other diseases with global reach.