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Success of PAEDS and IMPACT networks shows promise for other countries

Hospital-based sentinel surveillance networks are essential to support public health systems and become invaluable in times of health emergencies. These networks are often set up to monitor specific conditions but hold value for routine surveillance. 

Authors of a newly published article in Eurosurveillance analysed two such national surveillance networks - the Australian Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) network and the Canadian Immunization Monitoring Program, ACTive (IMPACT). IMPACT was established in 1991 and PAEDS in 2007. Both these networks arose from the need to reliably detect serious adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs) in children, which can be missed by passive surveillance systems.  

Since their inception, IMPACT and PAEDS have played wide-ranging roles — from identifying emerging infections and measuring the incidence of severe disease to informing national vaccination policy. Over the years these systems have collected valuable data on several vaccine preventable diseases, demonstrating the impact of immunisation programs and supporting the introduction of new and enhanced programs. 

The PAEDS network has been vital to Australia maintaining its polio-free status by meeting the World Health Organization case targets; contributing to a change in influenza vaccine policy to support free vaccine for all children under the age of 5 years; and collecting data on 10 childhood conditions to support public health response. The strength and adaptability of the PAEDS network has allowed for it to be now used to monitor SARS-CoV-2 infections in children.

The successful implementation of PAEDS in Australia and IMPACT in Canada – two different countries with different health systems – shows there is potential value for other countries to expand sentinel site surveillance for childhood conditions. This is particularly relevant in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment which the authors argue would allow other countries to closely monitor this infection and can be applied to other emerging infections.

Read the full article here