The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) was initiated by World Health Organization (WHO) in 1974 in order to save children from life threatening, disabling vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). In Pakistan, this program was launched in 1978 with the main objectives of eradicating polio by 2012, eliminating measles and neonatal tetanus by 2015, and minimizing the incidence of other VPDs. However, despite the efforts of government and WHO, this program has not received the amount of success that was desired. Hence, the objectives of this study were to elucidate the main reasons behind not achieving the full immunization coverage in Pakistan, the awareness of children’s attendant about the importance of vaccination, their attitudes, thoughts and fears regarding childhood immunization, and the major hurdles faced in pursuit of getting their children vaccinated.
This was an observational, cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study conducted during a one year period from 4th January, 2012 to 6th January, 2013 at the pediatric outpatient clinics of Civil Hospital (CHK) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH). We attempted to interview all the parents who could be approached during the period of the study. Thus, convenience sampling was employed. The parents were approached in the clinics and interviewed after seeking informed, written consent. Those patients who were not accompanied by either of their parents were excluded from the study. The study instrument comprised of three sections. The first section consisted was concerned with the demographics of the patient and the parents. The second section dealt with the reasons for complete vaccination or under-vaccination. The last section aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of the respondents.
Out of 1044 patients, only 713(68.3%) were fully vaccinated, 239(22.9%) were partially vaccinated while 92(8.8%) had never been vaccinated. The vaccination status showed statistically significant association with ethnicity, income, residence, number of children and paternal occupation (p < 0.05 for all). The most common provocative factor for vaccination compliance was mass media (61.9%). The most common primary reason for non-vaccination was lack of knowledge (18.1%), whereas the most common secondary reason for non-vaccination was religious taboos (31.4%). Majority of the respondents demonstrated poor knowledge of EPI schedules or VPDs. However, most believed that there was a need for more active government/NGO involvement in this area.
The most common primary reason for non-vaccination, i.e. lack of knowledge, and the most common secondary reason, i.e. religious taboos, imply that there is dire need to promote awareness among the masses in collaboration with NGOs, and major religious and social organizations.
Literatures on prevalence and factors associated with malnutrition among peoples living with HIV/AIDS are limited in Ethiopia and not well documented either. The proper implementation of nutritional support and its integration with the routine highly active antiretroviral therapy package demands a clear picture of the magnitude and associated factors of malnutrition. The objective of this study is, therefore, to assess the prevalence and factors associated with malnutrition among peoples living with HIV/AIDS.
Institution based cross sectional study was conducted in Dilla University referral Hospital including adult HIV patients who were in highly active anti retroviral therapy. Interview administered questionnaires were used to collect data on socio demographic factors. Besides, HIV related clinical information was extracted from anti retro viral therapy data base and clinical charts. The nutritional status of the patients was determined by Body Mass Index (BMI) where BMI < 18kg/m2 was defined as malnutrition according to World Health Organization (WHO). Binary logistic regression was used to assess association between different risk factors and malnutrition. Confidence interval of 95% was considered to see the precision of the study and the level of significance was taken at α <0.05.
A total of 520 patients were included in the analysis. The overall prevalence of malnutrition was 12.3% (95% CI 9.5–15.0). After full control of all variables; unemployment (OR = 3.61, 95% CI: 3.6 − 7.76), WHO clinical stage four (OR = 12.9, 95% CI: 2.49− 15.25), gastrointestinal symptoms (OR = 5.3, 95% CI: 2.56 − 10.78) and previous (one) opportunistic infection (OR = 3.1, 95% CI 2.06 − 5.46), and two & above previous opportunistic infections (OR = 4.5, 95% CI: 3.38 − 10.57) were significantly associated with malnutrition. However, moderately poor economic condition was found to be protective factor for malnutrition (OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.14 − 0.95).
Unemployment, WHO clinical AIDS stage four, one & more number of previous opportunistic infections and gastrointestinal symptoms were found to be important risk factors for malnutrition among People Living with HIV/AIDS. From this study it has been learnt that nutritional programs should be an integral part of HIV/AIDS continuum of care. Furthermore, it needs to improve household income of PLHIV with employment opportunity and to engage them in income generating activities as well.
Prevalence; Malnutrition; HIV; Ethiopia; Dilla University Hospital
The burden of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease (CVD) is increasing rapidly in Nigeria, but fewer studies have evaluated the role of physical activity in the development of CVD in this country. We examined the relationship between health enhancing physical activity and risk factors of CVD in a working population of adults in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
In a cross-sectional study, we assessed health enhancing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among 292 government employees (age: 20–65 years, 40% female, 24% obese and 79.8% response) using the self-administered version of International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-SF). Time spent in walking and sitting during occupational activity was assessed as well. Anthropometric measurement of height, weight and waist circumference, and blood pressure were also measured. Independent t-test and One- Way ANOVA were conducted, and the relationships between MVPA and body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure and heart rate were explored using Pearson correlations coefficients and multiple regression analyses.
The mean time spent in health enhancing MVPA (116.4 ± 101.3 min/wk) was lower than the recommended guideline of 150 min/wk sufficient for health benefits. Compared with men, more women were less physically active, obese and reported more diagnoses of component of metabolic syndrome (p < 0.05). Participants whose work activities were highly sedentary tend to accumulate less minutes of MVPA compared with those who reported their work as moderately active or highly active (p < 0.001). Health enhancing MVPA was inversely related with body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.05).
Physical activity level of the working population of Nigerian adults was low and was related with adverse risk factors for CVD. Promoting health enhancing physical activity at work places may be important for prevention and control of CVD among the working population in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Health-related physical activity; Obesity; Chronic diseases; Nigeria
The phasing out of lead from gasoline has resulted in a significant decrease in blood lead levels (BLLs) in children during the last two decades. Tetraethyl lead was phased out in DRC in 2009. The objective of this study was to test for reduction in pediatric BLLs in Kinshasa, by comparing BLLs collected in 2011 (2 years after use of leaded gasoline was phased out) to those collected in surveys conducted in 2004 and 2008 by Tuakuila et al. (when leaded gasoline was still used).
We analyzed BLLs in a total of 100 children under 6 years of age (Mean ± SD: 2.9 ± 1.6 age, 64% boys) using inductively coupled argon plasma mass spectrometry (ICP – MS).
The prevalence of elevated BLLs (≥ 10 μg/dL) in children tested was 63% in 2004 [n = 100, GM (95% CI) = 12.4 μg/dL (11.4 – 13.3)] and 71% in 2008 [(n = 55, GM (95% CI) = 11.2 μg/dL (10.3 – 14.4)]. In the present study, this prevalence was 41%. The average BLLs for the current study population [GM (95% CI) = 8.7 μg/dL (8.0 – 9.5)] was lower than those found by Tuakuila et al. (F = 10.38, p <0.001) as well as the CDC level of concern (10 μ/dL), with 3% of children diagnosed with BLLs ≥ 20 μg/dL.
These results demonstrate a significant success of the public health system in Kinshasa, DRC-achieved by the removal of lead from gasoline. However, with increasing evidence that adverse health effects occur at BLLs < 10 μg/dL and no safe BLLs in children has been identified, the BLLs measured in this study continue to constitute a major public health concern for Kinshasa. The emphasis should shift to examine the contributions of non-gasoline sources to children’s BLLs: car batteries recycling in certain residences, the traditional use of fired clay for the treatment of gastritis by pregnant women and leaded paint.
Blood lead levels; Leaded gasoline; Children health; Phase out; Kinshasa
The main objective of the joint action MODE is the transfer of best-practices in the field of organ donation and transplantation and the creation of positive synergies among participating European (EU) Member States (MS) apt to support authorities in possible decision-making and policy contexts.
The consortium has chosen to foster the exchange of best-practice through a series of exchange visits followed by the provision of a set of specialized trainings.
Each participating MS has presented its strengths and weaknesses through a questionnaire based on the Organ Action Plan. Once the situation was clearer, countries with the strongest program organized and hosted the on-site visits and each country had the opportunity to perform five exchange visits on five selected topics.
Specific courses for healthcare staff of organ coordinating and transplantation centres were organized. Based on evaluation of the results of the on-site visits and training needs indicated by the partners, the chosen topics were:
• reporting on adverse events and reactions
• quality assurance programme of the donation process in Spain
• quality assurance of the transplantation process
Results and conclusions
The outcome is that within the EU, even among MS with well-developed services, the organ donation and transplantation activity has substantial differences so that all participating countries would benefit from investigating foreign donation and transplant systems. Collaboration at EU level can be beneficial for all systems and the joint action MODE indicated that in some countries the sharing of expertise across the EU Member States has already proved to be useful in starting a virtuous circle in organization and training that would allow to increase organ donor rates and improve overall performance.
Little work has been done to assess the quality of health care and the use of evidence-based methods by occupational physicians in Belgium. Therefore, the main objective is to describe one aspect of occupational health assessments, namely the common use of dipstick urinalysis, and to compare the current practice with international guidelines.
A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to 211 members of the Scientific Association of Occupational Medicine in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
A total of 120 occupational physicians responded, giving a response rate of 57%. Dipstick urinalysis was a routine investigation for the vast majority of physicians (69%). All test strips screened for protein and in 90% also for blood. Occupational health services offered clinical tests to satisfy customer wants as international guidelines do not recommend screening for haematuria and proteinuria in asymptomatic adults. A lack of knowledge concerning positive testing and referral criteria was demonstrated in almost half of the study participants.
Belgian occupational physicians still routinely perform dipstick testing although there is no evidence to support this screening in healthy workers. To practice evidence-based medicine, occupational physicians need more instruction and training. Development and implementation of more guidelines is not only of use for the individual practitioner, it may also enhance professionalization and efficiency of occupational health care.
Evidence-based practice; Occupational health; Guidelines; Health surveillance
Children are not always recognized as being susceptible to stress, although childhood stressors may originate from multiple events in their everyday surroundings with negative effects on children’s health.
As there is a lack of large-scale, European prevalence data on childhood adversities, this study presents the prevalence of (1) negative life events and (2) familial and social adversities in 4637 European pre- and primary-school children (4–11 years old), using a parentally-reported questionnaire embedded in the IDEFICS project (‘Identification and prevention of Dietary- and lifestyle-induced health EFfects In Children and infantS’).
The following findings were observed: (1) Certain adversities occur only rarely, while others are very regular (i.e. parental divorce); (2) A large percentage of children is shielded from stressors, while a small group of children is exposed to multiple, accumulating adversities; (3) The prevalence of childhood adversity is influenced by geographical location (e.g. north versus south), age group and sex; (4) Childhood adversities are associated and co-occur, resulting in potential cumulative childhood stress.
This study demonstrated the importance of not only studying traumatic events but also of focusing on the early familial and social environment in childhood stress research and indicated the importance of recording or monitoring childhood adversities.
Child; Life events; Adversity; Prevalence; Stress; Epidemiology
In this paper, we investigate the usefulness of work and school absenteeism surveillance as an early warning system for influenza. In particular, time trends in daily absenteeism rates collected during the A(H1N1)2009 pandemic are compared with weekly incidence rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) obtained from the Belgian Sentinel General Practitioner (SGP) network. The results indicate a rise in absenteeism rates prior to the onset of the influenza epidemic, suggesting that absenteeism surveillance is a promising tool for early warning of influenza epidemics. To convincingly conclude on the usefulness of absenteeism data for early warning, additional data covering several influenza seasons is needed.
School absenteeism; worker absenteeism; influenza; influenza A virus; H1N1 subtype
A problem repeatedly reported in birth certificate data is the presence of missing data. In 2008, a Centre for Perinatal Epidemiology was created inter alia to assist the Health Departments of Brussels-Capital City Region to check birth certificates. The purpose of this study is to assess the changes brought by the Centre in terms of completeness of data registration for the entire population and according to immigration status.
Birth certificates from the birth registry of 2008 and 2009 of Brussels were considered. We evaluated the initial missing information in January 2008 (baseline situation) and the corresponding rate at the end of 2008 after oral and written information had been given to the city civil servants and health providers. The data were evaluated again at the end of 2009 where no reinforcement rules were adopted. We also measured residual missing data after correction in socio-economic and medical data, for the entire population and according to maternal nationality of origin. Changes in registration of stillbirths were estimated by comparison to 2007 baseline data, and all multiple births were checked for complete identification of pairs.
Missing information initially accounted for 64.0%, 20.8% and 19.5% of certificates in January 2008, December 2008, and 2009 respectively. After correction with lists sent back to the hospitals or city offices, the mean residual missing data rate was 2.1% in 2008 and 0.8% in 2009. Education level and employment status were missing more often in immigrant mothers compared to Belgian natives both in 2008 and 2009. Mothers from Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest missing rate of socio-economic data. The stillbirth rate increased from 4.6 ‰ in 2007 to 8.2 ‰ in 2009. All twin pairs were identified, but early loss of a co-twin before 22 weeks was rarely reported.
Reinforcement of data collection was associated with a decrease of missing information. The residual missing data rate was very low. The stillbirth rate was also improved but the early loss of a co-twin before 22 weeks seems to remain underreported.
Birth certificates; Validation studies; Bias; Epidemiologic
Surveillance; Influenza; diagnosis; PCR
The objective of this paper is to provide analytical research that supported the European Commission in setting the global target of additional two healthy life years (HLY) at birth by 2020 in the EU on average, within the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (the EIP on AHA). It produces a straightforward analysis of HLY projections that helped the European Commission set a firm, politically sound, target. In order to reach that goal, policy makers need to commit to redefining health priorities and goals and developing and implementing relevant strategies and programmes.
The study computes a simple simulation of the HLY at birth based on three demographic scenarios: compression of morbidity, expansion of morbidity and an intermediary scenario, the dynamic equilibrium, given the expected 2.1 year gain in male and 1.6 in female life expectancy (LE) by 2020. Data on HLY and projections of life expectancy were obtained from Eurostat and 2008 was taken as a baseline. For consistency and given data gaps, EU27 average values of HLY were calculated.
In the EU27 as a whole, the difference between LE and HLY in 2008 was nearly 15 years for men and 20 years for women. The developments of healthy life expectancies across the EU Member States (MSs) are even more diverse that makes it difficult to model any robust EU level trends.
Under compression of morbidity, life expectancy and HLY would increase by 2020 on average by 2.1 and 2.0 years for men and by 1.6 and 1.4 years for women respectively. The expected years with disability would remain unchanged while the HLY/LE ratio would improve leading to a 0.5% gain for both genders. Under expansion of morbidity, life expectancy would increase by 2.1 years for men and 1.4 years for women by 2020, while HLY would remain unchanged and the expected years with disability would increase by 2.1 years and 1.6 years in women. This would imply the deterioration of the HLY/LE ratio for both men and women generating a 2.2% and 1.4% loss of health for men and women accordingly. Under dynamic equilibrium, the HLY would increase but to a lesser extent as the rise in life expectancy. The HLY would increase by 1.6 and 1.2 years for men and women respectively. HLY/LE ratio would remain unchanged for both men (+0.1%) and women. The study shows that the first scenario would reduce the HLY gap between the EU MSs by 1.4 years in men and 1.2 years in women, the second would generate no change, while the third one would reduce the gap by 0.9 years in men and increase it by 0.7 years in women.
The results of the study triggered the political decision of setting the global target of 2 additional HLY for the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing to be achieved by 2020. It is a ‘grand’ goal but can be achieved. Statistics clearly show that EU countries characterise very different levels of health progress, with a gap of 2 decades and diverging trends. With this in mind, the EU HLY target should be complemented by national HLY targets for men and women, set by MSs.
Healthy life years; Life expectancy; EU target; Compression; Expansion; Equilibrium; Disability; Morbidity; Mortality; Healthy ageing
The story of the implementation of the joint EU health indicators (ECHI indicators) began in the 1990s after the Amsterdam Treaty. The first concrete step in establishing a health monitoring capacity for EU was the Commission working group set up in 1997. Several consecutive and parallel projects, notably the health indicator projects ECHI-1 and ECHI-2 between the years 2000 and 2005 led to a preparedness to implement the jointly agreed health indicators (ECHI shortlist) in all European countries. ECHIM (2005 – 2008) and the Joint Action for ECHIM (2009 - ) laid the foundation for the implementation of health indicators, and initiated Europe wide implementation proper. After the European recession of 2008 the circumstances in different countries were not optimal. Also the collaboration with the Commission could have been better. Nevertheless, the implementation process of the ECHI indicators is now well underway in most countries. By June 2012 half of the Member States had incorporated the ECHI indicators into their national health information system, and, if work can continue, by 2014 most countries are likely to have done so. Unfortunately, a gap may occur between the current programme and the next public health programme. The current momentum must not be lost. Therefore, all those responsible need to urge that the Commission (DG SANCO) together with the Member States helps to bridge the gap from June 2012 to January 2014. The new Public Health Programme provides the necessary financial instruments for setting up a permanent EU health information and reporting system.
Health indicators; Health information; European Community Health Indicators (ECHI); EU Joint Action
Health Examination Surveys (HESs) can provide essential information on the health and health determinants of a population, which is not available from other data sources. Nevertheless, only some European countries have systems of national HESs. A study conducted in 2006–2008 concluded that it is feasible to organize national HESs using standardized measurement procedures in nearly all EU countries. The feasibility study also outlined a structure for a European Health Examination Survey (EHES), which is a collaboration to organize standardized HESs in countries across Europe.
To facilitate setting up national surveys and to gain experience in applying the EHES methods in different cultures, EHES Joint Action (2010–2011) planned and piloted standardized HESs in the working age population in 12 countries. This included countries with earlier national HESs and countries which were planning their first national HES. The core measurements included in all surveys were weight, height, waist circumference and blood pressure, and blood samples were taken to measure lipid profiles and glucose or glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c). These are modifiable determinants of major chronic diseases not identified in health interview surveys. There was a questionnaire to complement the data on the examination measurements.
Evaluation of the pilot surveys was based on review of national manuals and evaluation reports of survey organizers; observations and discussions of survey procedures during site visits and training seminars; and other communication with the survey organizers.
Despite unavoidable differences in the ways HESs are organized in the various countries, high quality and comparability of the data seems achievable. The biggest challenge in each country was obtaining high participation rate. Most of the pilot countries are now ready to start their full-size national HES, and six of them have already started.
The EHES Pilot Project has set up the structure for obtaining comparable high quality health indicators on health and important modifiable risk factors of major non-communicable diseases from the European countries. The European Union is now in a key position to make this structure sustainable. The EHES core survey can be expanded to cover other measurements.
Health surveys; Population health monitoring; Risk factors; Chronic diseases; EHES; Survey methods
In 1978, the Alma-Ata declaration on primary health care (PHC) recognized that the world’s health issues required more than just hospital-based and physician-centered policies. The declaration called for a paradigm change that would allow governments to provide essential care to their population in a universally acceptable manner. The figure of the community health worker (CHW) remains a central feature of participation within the PHC approach, and being a CHW is still considered to be an important way of participation within the health system.
This study explores how the values and personal motivation of community health workers influences their experience with this primary health care strategy in in the municipality of Palencia, Guatemala. To do this, we used an ethnographic approach and collected data in January-March of 2009 and 2010 by using participant observation and in-depth interviews.
We found that the CHWs in the municipality had a close working relationship with the mobile health team and with the community, and that their positions allowed them to develop leadership and teamwork skills that may prove useful in other community participation processes. The CHWs are motivated in their work and volunteerism is a key value in Palencia, but there is a lack of infrastructure and growth opportunities.
Attention should be paid to keeping the high levels of commitment and integration within the health team as well as keeping up supervision and economic funds for the program.
Community health workers; Community participation; Guatemala; Primary Health Care; Alma-Ata declaration
The last decades, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased. Apart from other lifestyle factors, the effect of chronic psychosocial stress on the development of obesity has been recognized. However, more research is needed into the influence of chronic stress on appetite regulation, energy balance and body composition, as well as on the interaction with physical activity/sedentary behavior, diet and sleep in children. In this regard, the ChiBS study (Children’s Body composition and Stress) was designed at the Ghent University. Within this paper, we describe the aims, design, methods, participation and population characteristics of the ChiBS study.
The influence of chronic stress on changes in body composition is investigated over a two-year follow-up period (February-June 2010, 2011 and 2012) in primary-school children between 6 and 12 years old in the city Aalter (Flanders, Belgium).
Stress is measured by child- and parent-reported stress-questionnaires, as well as by objective stress biomarkers (serum, salivary and hair cortisol) and heart rate variability. Body composition is evaluated using basic anthropometric measurements and air displacement plethysmography. Additional information on socio-economic status, medical history, physical activity, dietary intake and sleep are obtained by questionnaires, and physical activity by accelerometers.
The participation percentage was 68.7% (N = 523/761), with 71.3% of the children willing to participate in the first follow-up survey. Drop-out proportions were highest for serum sampling (12.1%), salivary sampling (8.3%) and heart rate variability measurements (7.4%).
The ChiBS project is unique in its setting: its standardized and longitudinal approach provides valuable data and new insights into the relationship between stress and changes in body composition in a large cohort of young children. In addition, this study allows an in-depth investigation of the validity of the different methods that were used to assess stress levels in children.
Stress; Child; Body composition; Obesity; Cortisol; Heart rate variability; Questionnaire; Food habits; Physical activity; Sleep
The municipality of Ath is characterised by the presence, in its center, of two non-ferrous metal industries whose emissions make local residents concerned for their health. Therefore, authorities of the Walloon Region and the municipality of Ath undertook biomonitoring to assess the impact of those industrial emissions on heavy metal body burden in humans.
This paper describes the study design and methodology used to carry out this human biomonitoring.
A random sampling was done in the general population, in two areas of Ath: an area centered around the industries and a peripheral area. The target population was children (2.5-11 years) and adults (40-60 years) without occupational exposure. The three-stage sampling procedure consisted of a mixture of both mail and telephone recruitment. Firstly, 3259 eligible people, identified from a population register, were mailed an introductory letter. In a second stage, eligible individuals were contacted by phone to propose them to participate in the study. They were randomly contacted until the required sample size was obtained. In the third stage, a second mail was sent to those who agreed to participate with a questionnaire to be filled out. Finally, biological samples (blood and urine) from 278 persons were collected. The final participation rate of this study was 24%.
This sampling procedure, especially designed for the purpose of this biomonitoring study in Ath, allowed us to recruit a sample representative of the population of children and adults of Ath, reaching the expected sample size in a short period of time.
Ath; biomonitoring; heavy metals; methodology; sampling; study design
In Belgium, breast cancer mortality has been monitored since 1954, whereas cancer incidence data have only been made available for a few years. In this article we update historical trends of breast cancer mortality and describe the recent breast cancer incidence.
Incidence data were extracted from the Belgium Cancer Registry from 2004 to 2006 for the Walloon and Brussels Regions and Belgium, and from 1999 to 2006 for the Flemish Region. The Directorate-general Statistics and Economic information provided the mortality data for the years 1954-1999 and 2004. The regional authorities of the Flemish and Brussels Regions provided the mortality data for the years 2000-2003 and 2005-2006.
In 2004, the World age-standardised breast cancer incidence for the whole of Belgium was 110 per 100, 000 person-years for all ages; and 172, 390 and 345 per 100, 000 person-years for the 35-49, 50-69, and 70+ age groups, respectively. The incidence rate was slightly higher in each age group in the Brussels Region. In Flanders, where the incidence could be observed during a longer period, an increase was observed until 2003 in the 50-69 age group, followed by a decrease. To the contrary, in the oldest age group, incidence continued to rise over the whole period, whereas no change in incidence was observed between 1999 and 2006 in the 35-49 age group.
Mortality increased until the late 1980s and afterwards decreased in all regions and in age groups younger than 70. In women of 70 years and older, the decline began later.
The burden of breast cancer in Belgium is very high. In 2004, Belgium ranked first for the age-standardised incidence rate in Europe for all ages combined and in the 35-49 and 50-69 age groups. The impact of the known risk factors and of mammographic screening should be further studied. The mortality rate in Belgium ranked lower than incidence, suggesting favourable survival. Plausible explanations for the discrepancy between incidence and mortality are discussed.
Influenza; paediatrics; A(H1N1)2009; epidemiology
In September 2009, as part of the surveillance during the Influenza A(2009) pandemic, Bel-gium introduced a web-based surveillance system aimed at recording hospitalisations and deaths attributable to Influenza in real time.
We present the web-based application developed for the pandemic as well as a descriptive analysis of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases reported through this system.
From 1 September to 31 December 2009, 1723 SARI-related hospitalisations potentially due to influenza were reported in Belgium. The median age of the patients was 29 years (range: < 1 year-99 years). Among SARI-hospitalised patients 68% were aged less than 45 years, 10.6% were vaccinated with the seasonal influenza vaccine and 7.5% with the pandemic influenza vaccine. No deaths were recorded.
This first experience showed the feasibility of getting real-time information from hospitals during a public health crisis. However, the absence of death detected through the system highlighted the importance of better defining the severity of the hospital cases.
SARI; hospitalisation; surveillance; influenza A(H1N1)2009; epidemiology
Nursing homes; surveillance; influenza; A(H1N1)2009; influenza-like illness; seasonal flu
Participation rate and response rate are key issues in a cross sectional large-scale epidemiological study. The objective of this paper is to describe the study population and to evaluate participation and response rate as well as the key nutritional status variables in male and female adolescents involved in the HELENA study.
A multi-stage random cluster sampling with a target sample of 3000 adolescents aged [12.5 to 17.5] years, stratified for geographical location and age, was carried out. Information for participants and non-participants (NP) was compared, and participation and response rates to specific questionnaires were discussed.
3,865 adolescents aged [12.5 to 17.5] years (1,845 females) participated in the HELENA study, of whom 1,076 (568 females) participated in the blood sampling. 3,528 (1,845 females) adolescents were finally kept for statistical analysis. Participation rates for the schools and classes differed importantly between countries. The participation rate of pupils within the participating classes also differed importantly between countries. Sex ratio, mean age and BMI were similar between NP and participating adolescents within each centre, and in the overall sample. For all the questionnaires included in the database, the response rate of questionnaires was high (more than 80% of questions were completed).
From this study it could be concluded that participation rate differed importantly between countries, though no bias could be identified when comparing the key study variables between participants and non-participants. Response rate for questionnaires was very high. Future studies investigating lifestyle and health in adolescents can optimize their methods when considering the opportunities and barriers observed in the HELENA study.