Real-Time Surveillance of Infectious Diseases: Taiwan's Experience

Health Secur. 2017 Mar/Apr;15(2):144-153. doi: 10.1089/hs.2016.0107.


Integration of multiple surveillance systems advances early warning and supports better decision making during infectious disease events. Taiwan has a comprehensive network of laboratory, epidemiologic, and early warning surveillance systems with nationwide representation. Hospitals and clinical laboratories have deployed automatic reporting mechanisms since 2014 and have effectively improved timeliness of infectious disease and laboratory data reporting. In June 2016, the capacity of real-time surveillance in Taiwan was externally assessed and was found to have a demonstrated and sustainable capability. We describe Taiwan's disease surveillance system and use surveillance efforts for influenza and Zika virus as examples of surveillance capability. Timely and integrated influenza information showed a higher level and extended pattern of influenza activity during the 2015-16 season, which ensured prompt information dissemination and the coordination of response operations. Taiwan also has well-developed disease detection systems and was the first country to report imported cases of Zika virus from Miami Beach and Singapore. This illustrates a high level of awareness and willingness among health workers to report emerging infectious diseases, and highlights the robust and sensitive nature of Taiwan's surveillance system. These 2 examples demonstrate the flexibility of the surveillance systems in Taiwan to adapt to emerging infectious diseases and major communicable diseases. Through participation in the GHSA, Taiwan can more actively collaborate with national counterparts and use its expertise to strengthen global and regional surveillance capacity in the Asia Pacific and in Southeast Asia, in order to advance a world safe and secure from infectious disease.

Keywords: Infectious diseases; Surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / prevention & control*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease Notification / standards*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Internet*
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Zika Virus / isolation & purification
  • Zika Virus Infection / diagnosis
  • Zika Virus Infection / prevention & control