Thanks to decades of vaccination, many serious childhood diseases have virtually disappeared in Belgium. However, sometimes those diseases reappear with the risk of causing epidemics. Sciensano monitors these diseases through various networks, including PediSurv. This network collects data on certain serious and/or rare infectious diseases in children under the age of 15 and enables Sciensano to:
- follow trends of infectious diseases in children
- detect and monitor epidemics
- support policymakers in setting vaccination policy and health policy priorities in Belgium
- monitor the progress of Belgium’s commitments towards the international plans of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the eradication of poliomyelitis and the elimination of measles and rubella.
Since October 2002, Sciensano’s Epidemiology of infectious diseases department has coordinated since the surveillance network PediSurv. Approximately 350 clinicians (pediatricians in Belgium and general practitioners in Brussels) participate voluntary in the network and collect monthly demographic, clinical and microbiological data from a series of severe and/or rare infectious diseases in children <15 years of age, including:
- acute weak paralysis (AFP)
- congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)
- invasive pneumococcal infections
- severe cases of whooping cough in children <3 years of age (from 01/06/2021)
The absence of cases is also reported monthly. These zero notifications are essential in the context of international elimination and eradication targets for measles, rubella and poliomyelitis.
An annual Guidance Committee, composed of various stakeholders (doctors, academics and policy makers) evaluates the operation and proposes possible changes to the list of diseases to be monitored, according to public health priorities.
Cooperation of different data sources
To obtain the targets, Sciensano combines different data sources depending on the disease:
- the national reference centers, including:
- NRC for measles, mumps and rubella, housed at Sciensano
- NRC for invasive pneumococcal infections (streptococcus pneumoniae), KULeuven
- NRC for congenital infections, Hopital University Erasme-ULB
- NRC for enteroviruses (incl. Poliovirus and parecho virus), KULeuven
- NRC for STEC (Shiga toxin producing E. coli), UZ Brussel
- the network of Sentinel laboratories (Sciensano)
- the minimum hospital data (FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment)
- the mandatory notifications (AViQ, COCOM, AZG)