Development and Implementation of a Surveillance Network System for Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Caribbean (ARICABA)

WonGyu Lewis Kim, Chelsea Anne Ducharme, Bernard Jean-Marie Philippe Bucher


Dengue fever, including dengue hemorrhagic fever, has become a re-emerging public health threat in the Caribbean in the absence of a comprehensive regional surveillance system. In this deficiency, a project entitled ARICABA, strives to implement a pilot surveillance system across three islands: Martinique, St. Lucia, and Dominica. The aim of this project is to establish a network for epidemiological surveillance of infectious diseases, utilizing information and communication technology. This paper describes the system design and development strategies of a “network of networks” surveillance system for infectious diseases in the Caribbean. Also described are benefits, challenges, and limitations of this approach across the three island nations identified through direct observation, open-ended interviews, and email communications with an on-site IT consultant, key informants, and the project director. Identified core systems design of the ARICABA data warehouse include a disease monitoring system and a syndromic surveillance system. Three components comprise the development strategy: the data warehouse server, the geographical information system, and forecasting algorithms; these are recognized technical priorities of the surveillance system. A main benefit of the ARICABA surveillance system is improving responsiveness and representativeness of existing health systems through automated data collection, process, and transmission of information from various sources. Challenges include overcoming technology gaps between countries; real-time data collection points; multiple language support; and “component-oriented” development approaches.

Keywords: outbreak, surveillance, syndromic surveillance, forecasting, emerging infectious diseases, Caribbean

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *