The fourth edition of the Annual Epidemiological Report on Communicable Diseases in Europe provides a comprehensive summary of surveillance data for 2008.
The data presented show that EU citizens, in general, enjoy a high level of protection against infectious diseases. For some diseases further joint actions (e.g. through vaccination and similar control measures) could lead to the EU, and eventually Europe, being declared ‘free’ of the disease, as is the case for several vaccine preventable diseases.
Nonetheless, as in previous years, Europe continues to face challenges:
- the growing resistance of microbes to the most widely used antibiotics;
- disease outbreaks in healthcare settings such as hospitals and care homes;
- rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV and chlamydia; and
- a significant burden of illness and death caused by respiratory tract infections.
Furthermore, EU Member States are still far from reaching the goals already set by the disease elimination programmes, especially concerning measles where the declining trend has reversed. Similarly, improving the sensitivity and specificity of rubella surveillance is paramount in view of the WHO 2010 elimination goal.
Steadily, every year, ECDC and its national counterparts in the Member States are improving the quality and comparability of the data collected. Since 2006, data on all the key infectious diseases
Read the Annual Epidemiological Report 2010
monitored at EU level has been fed into a single, unified database known as The European Surveillance System (TESSy), which makes it possible to look at EU-wide trends over the last few years based on a standard, comparable, EU-wide data set. In the fight against public health challenges, there is plenty of good practice and innovation in Europe. The role of ECDC is to help policy-makers identify this good practice. To do this, they need reliable and independent public health evidence on the impact of prevention measures. Having high quality, comparable disease surveillance data is fundamental in this quest.