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Reading summary

Steeven Toor
March 22nd 2017

This weeks readings were all focused on the topic of disease surveillance
and the first reading time, travel and infection was focused on examples of
epidemiology in a historical context, it was looking at the spread of disease
in history. In summary the paper was focused on how reducing the space and
distance between humans and human contact due to the changes in
transport technology is associated with the transfer of communicable
diseases. As I was reading through this paper there were three example
provided that ranged from steamships importing measles into Fiji to the
spread of cholera and how It has changed in the United States of America.
For me this paper actually made me think of the actual case of smallpox and
how it was almost completely eradicated and was temporary eradicated from
Canada/United States until it was imported from another country, bringing
me to a realization that the health of one population somewhere else in the
world will definitely effect our health, even though we reside in different
countries and regions. The paper had said that the last 200 years is where
we have seen this change and that has made it evident that the reduction in
spacing and an increase in spatial range in human travel has increased the
spread of disease. The paper acknowledged the short term repercussions as
those who do travel are put at a higher exposure to a greater range of
diseases and then spreading them and long term effects as population
mixing and increasing the amount of diseases inherited. The second reading
demographic surveillance and health equity in sub-Saharan Africa and was
focused on the health strategies in sub-Saharan Africa that were aimed at
reducing health inequities. There was a focus on increasing the heath of
those below the poverty line or at least attempting to reduce what the paper
called poor-rich difference to further research in poverty, equity and health
in having operational significance. The article touches on how there has been
six decades of demographic surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa and defines
demographic surveillance as the the process of defining risk and
corresponding dynamics in demographic rates of birth, death and migration
in populations over time. The paper also mentions that there needs to be a
linkage and coordination between the different efforts for surveillance being
deployed in different parts of Africa and promotes the INDEPTH (International
Network of field sites with continuous Demographic Evaluation of Populations
and Their Health) program addresses a primary need for accurate population
based information that informs health policies in developing countries. The
general message that I took away form this study was that there is a need
for a fuller and holistic understanding of disease surveillance that calls for a
more collective and collaborative approach and there is a need for more
investment in demographic surveillance systems in developing countries that
can help establish this. The last reading was focused on the social network
sensors that can help establish an early detection of contagious outbreaks.
This paper states that current indicators of epidemics lag behind the actual
disease and can potentially be giving contemporary information and
proposed that an additional effort can be made to make this process more
effective. The study essentially proposes that individuals at the center of
social networks be used to monitor the disease as they are likely to be
infected by the disease/epidemic sooner than a random member of society.
The study experimented this theory on a Harvard class where a flu outbreak
was monitored and it was found that the progression of the flu outbreak took
place 13.9 days in advance of the randomized group. I found this interesting
as this idea could potentially help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of
disease surveillance measures.