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Public Health Observatory

​Surveillance in the Public Health Observatory is made up of two areas; chronic disease surveillance and communicable disease surveillance.

Chronic Disease Surveillance

What are Chronic Diseases?

Chronic diseases are characterized by multiple risk factors, long latency period, non infectious origin, and uncertain causes. Examples of chronic diseases are heart disease and stroke, cancer, respiratory conditions, diabetes, and mental illness. Chronic diseases are the number one cause of two thirds of all direct health care costs. The good news is that chronic diseases are largely preventable.

Chronic Disease Surveillance in the Public Health Observatory

Chronic disease surveillance includes all aspects of the disease, from health determinants (e.g. socio-economic background) and risk factors (e.g. smoking) to final health outcomes (e.g. all cause mortality). Many data sources are utilized including census, vital statistics, national and regional surveys, and health utilization data.. Data collection and analysis help to inform decision making especially where increased rates are found in certain sub-groups or geographic areas. Interventions can then be implemented and are usually applied at a population level.

Chronic Disease Surveillance Projects in the PHO

Chronic disease surveillance data is used to inform public health reports such as:

  • The 2009 Rural Health Status Report
  • The 2008 Health Status Report
  • Reducing Infant Mortality in Saskatoon, Report of the Medical Officer of Health
  • Diabetes Health Equity Audit

Communicable Disease Surveillance

What are Communicable Diseases?

Communicable diseases (CD) are diseases with high potential for transmission from person to person or from another species to humans. This may happen directly from an infected person or animal, or indirectly through an intermediate host or environmental contamination.

Communicable Disease Surveillance

The Public Health Observatory helps to coordinate surveillance for Public Health Services and analyzes surveillance data from a number of spheres of investigation, immunization, sentinel surveillance and enhanced surveillance studies.

Notifiable Disease Surveillance

Public Health Services conducts surveillance for communicable disease through laboratory testing and public health notification that is mandated by the Saskatchewan Public Health Act. Communicable diseases are made notifiable in the provinces and territories of Canada by provincial and territorial statute. Notifiable disease surveillance includes;

  • selected zoonotic diseases
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • bloodborne pathogens
  • enterics
  • respiratory disease

Non Notifiable Disease Surveillance

Some surveillance is done on diseases that are not notifiable but are of public health concern. Two examples of non notifiable diseases are norovirus and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Outbreak Investigation

Public health conducts surveillance for foodborne or waterborne illness in the community and institutions.

Immunization Data

Immunization data is used for surveillance purposes to provide a picture of the populations protection from vaccine preventable disease.

Sentinel Surveillance

The Public Health Observatory conducts sentinel surveillance, a type of surveillance that involves community stakeholders in tracking "proxy" indicators of disease. Sentinel Influenza Surveillance, for example, tracks school illness absenteeism and sentinel physicians reports of influenza-like-illness, alongside laboratory confirmed influenza case reporting in order to measure the impact of influenza on the community.

Enhanced Surveillance

Enhanced surveillance of routinely monitored disease involves "drilling down" to gather more detailed data to better understand risk information. Enhanced MRSA surveillance and enhanced Hepatitis C surveillance are examples of short term detailed studies that inform public health policy decision-making. Public Health Services also participates in national surveillance studies that investigate high risk populations, for example, the enhanced Street-Youth-Study conducted in six sites across Canada every two years. This study collects information on homelessness, substance abuse, school and justice system experience and sexually transmitted infections. In this way, the Public Health Observatory addressed applied research questions.

Communicable Disease Reports
Surveillance data is analyzed annually and on an ad hoc basis for internal reports that inform public health program planning, and for public reports like the Health Status Report. Public reports from CD surveillance data include;

  • SHR World AIDS Day Report - December 2012
  • Immunization Report 2010
  • MHO 2009-10 H1N1 SHR Report
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) Report (June 2008)
  • MHO Report - HIV & HCV Cluster Outbreak (2006)

A full list of our reports is available on the Reports and Publications page.

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 |
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