There is increasing interest and need for morbidity statistics to develop policies and initiatives at the national and European levels. To address this gap, the European Commission is preparing a regulation to obtain from member states nationally representative and comparable diagnosis-based morbidity data. Eurostat, the European Statistical Office, is guiding this process and has commissioned several pilot studies in which Sciensano has participated. Sciensano also participates in the Technical Group on Morbidity Statistics and in the Task Force on Morbidity Statistics.
In the context of the EU activities on morbidity statistics, Sciensano has so far participated in 3 pilot studies.
1. Preparatory work (April 2010–September 2011)
This action aimed at exploring conceptual aspects of morbidity statistics, summarising the historical background regarding the work done on morbidity statistics at EU level and in Belgium, and making an inventory of available databases in Belgium. Two diseases were selected from the Eurostat shortlist (diabetes mellitus and acute myocardial infarction). The available data for the 2 diseases were collected and a methodology was proposed for producing national best estimates. Finally, the sources and methods that were used in Belgium were compared with those used in other countries.
2. Feasibility study (February 2015–January 2016)
Sciensano realised a feasibility study of morbidity data collection in Belgium, aiming to describe possibilities, methods, limitations, and possible obstacles to get diagnosis-specific best estimates. The specific objectives included to:
- develop a critical inventory of potential data sources by entry (diagnosis) of the shortlist, and an assessment of the source’s value in the contribution to best estimates calculation
- identificate, within the shortlist of morbidity indicators, for which Belgium lacked data sources at that stage to produce estimates
- decide, when data were available, on the methods to apply in order to produce the best national estimates for the morbidity indicators included in the Eurostat prioritised shortlist (including the identification of the major obstacles as well as the possible solutions to overcome them)
- computate estimations for at least two diseases according to the proposed methods.
3. Pilot data collection (April 2019–September 2020)
The overall objective of this action is to obtain nationally representative, comparable diagnosis-based morbidity data proceeding from the 2018 Shortlist of Morbidity Indicators developed by Eurostat. In particular, Sciensano aims to:
- build up suitable administrative data infrastructure to collect diagnosis-based morbidity statistics
- collect data on diagnosis-based morbidity according to the Eurostat 2018 shortlist of indicators
- develop suitable methodologies for estimating those variables for which administrative data sources are not fully available.