Enhanced syndromic surveillance for mass gatherings in the Pacific: a case study of the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands, 2012

Western Pac Surveill Response J. 2016 Sep 27;7(3):15-20. doi: 10.5365/WPSAR.2016.7.1.004. eCollection 2016 Jul-Sep.


Mass gatherings pose public health challenges to host countries, as they can cause or exacerbate disease outbreaks within the host location or elsewhere. In July 2012, the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts (FOPA), a mass gathering event involving 22 Pacific island states and territories, was hosted by Solomon Islands. An enhanced syndromic surveillance (ESS) system was implemented for the event. Throughout the capital city, Honiara, 15 sentinel sites were established and successfully took part in the ESS system, which commenced one week before the FOPA (25 June) and concluded eight days after the event (22 July). The ESS involved expanding on the existing syndromic surveillance parameters: from one to 15 sentinel sites, from four to eight syndromes, from aggregated to case-based reporting and from weekly to daily reporting. A web-based system was developed to enable data entry, data storage and data analysis. Towards the end of the ESS period, a focus group discussion and series of key informant interviews were conducted. The ESS was considered a success and played an important role in the early detection of possible outbreaks. For the period of the ESS, 1668 patients with syndrome presentations were received across the 15 sentinel sites. There were no major events of public health significance. Several lessons were learnt that are relevant to ESS in mass gathering scenarios, including the importance of having adequate lead in time for engagement and preparation to ensure appropriate policy and institutional frameworks are put in place.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Holidays*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanesia / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance*