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  • Establishing priorities for national communicable disease surveillance: POTENTIAL TO DRIVE PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY

The definition of ‘potential to drive public health policy’ implies that other criteria of incidence, severity, risk percep­tion and preventability should be considered in determining the potential to drive public health policy. The factor is divided into three levels: ‘low’ with a score of 1; ‘medium’ with a score of 2; and ‘high’ with a score of 3. A score of 0 is assigned if the disease has no potential to influence public health policy. For in­stance, a score of 0 was assigned to yellow fever, cholera, ma­laria and leprosy. The highest score of three was awarded to HIV, AIDS, laboratory-confirmed influenza, tuberculosis, hepatitis A and C, CJD, invasive pneumococcal disease and salmonello- sis.


Risk perception is defined as the current level of concern of the general population or the media, or the disease’s potential to invoke a crisis. The assignment of scores is based on sub­committee members’ experience and the population’s percep­tion of the problem. It includes the consideration of the following factors: immediate versus delayed effects of the in­fection; dreaded versus familiar disease; the mechanism of disease is not known or understood; involuntary children at risk; identifiable victims; lack of belief in authority of the in­formation source; and the degree of media attention. This cri­terion is classified into three groups: ‘low’ with a score of 1, ‘moderate’ with a score of 3 and ‘high’ with a score of 5. HIV, AIDS, rabies, invasive meningococcal disease, and invasive group A streptococcal disease were each assigned a score of 5.
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The criterion, ‘appearing to or changing patterns over the past five years’, is classified into three groups. A score of 0 indicates that the disease has been stable over the five-year period. A score of 1 is assigned to diseases that exhibited ‘slow changes’, a score of three is assigned to diseases with ‘moder­ate changes over time’, and a score of 5 is assigned to diseases that have shown ‘dramatic changes’. No disease was assigned a score of 5. A score of 3 was assigned to HIV, AIDS, laboratory-confirmed influenza, tuberculosis, measles, per­tussis, hepatitis C, invasive pneumococcal disease, salmonel- losis, hepatitis A, cryptosporidiosis, cyclosporiasis and malaria.


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