Transforming Public Health Surveillance

Monday, June 1, 2020 - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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Course Description

Public health surveillance (PHS) is a critical, core set of health system functions for efficient, effective infectious, non-communicable disease (NCD), and injury prevention and control. Public health professionals must have information from PHS about the parameters of disease or injury occurrence to design, develop, and implement prevention and control programs. Transforming Public Health Surveillance (TPHS) provides a thorough review of PHS history, purposes, activities, uses, elements, data sources, models, analyses, actions, reports, evaluation, and ethical and legal issues.


TPHS helps students understand the critical importance of the direct association between PHS and public health action plus develop skills and competencies with the use of data-information-messages and the information and communication technologies (ICT) that enable, enhance, and empower them. TPHS teaches concepts from developed and underserved, under-resourced countries and introduces lessons learned in international health crises to construct a framework of thought that provides an efficient, effective, and equitable global prevention, detection, and response. TPHS describes enriched collaboration among military, clinical practice, societies, communities, and governmental and non-governmental organizations and discuss challenges and opportunities. It describes informatics approaches to enable and enhance data sharing, analytics, and visualization though interoperability that adapts to meet the challenges as PHS moves from analog to digital. Participants examine the challenges of modern PHS and discuss potential solutions, actions, and ideas to move forward.


TPHS defines current movements (i.e., governance, collaboration, information and communication technology [ICT], analytic tools and techniques, and new data sources) that influence the future of PHS in the 21st century and illustrates opportunities provided by these movements – combined with a renewed workforce – to transform PHS. It demonstrates how PHS core functions (i.e., detection, registration, confirmation, analysis, feedback, communication, and response) will be enabled, enhanced, and empowered by these opportunities. This course teaches advanced concepts, principles, and practices and includes new types of PHS (e.g., participatory and predictive); requirements for data sharing and interoperability; advanced analytics; and new data sources.

Course Objectives
  • Define PHS
  • Describe and give examples of the types of PHS
  • Explain and define different PHS terms
  • Identify uses and state the objectives for PHS
  • Describe the relationship between PHS and decision making
  • List and describe data collection sources, methods, and models of PHS
  • Identify key points in the development of PHS
  • Describe the current state of PHS and its challenges
  • Describe the different types and approaches used for conducting PHS
  • Understand the benefits and limitations to public health data from differing types of PHS
  • Describe the differences between vertical and integrated PHS
  • Explain situations in which vertical PHS is warranted
  • Explain the challenges involved with implementing vertical and integrated PHS
  • Describe the role of integrated PHS in Early Warning & Response
  • Describe the health system gains of integrating various PHS
  • Describe the need for workforce development and capacity strengthening in epidemiology and its impact on PHS
  • Determine how to prepare PHS data into a report for various audiences
  • Describe the methods of evaluating PHS
  • Compare and contrast PHS at international, national, state, and local levels
  • Explain the role and limitations of surveys to PHS
  • Explain how 21st century challenges to PHS present both an opportunity for innovation and a necessity for transformation
  • Describe the evolution of PHS, including Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) and the challenges
  • Describe the different types and approaches for conducting PHS
  • Demonstrate how ICT can improve the collection, analysis, and visualization of PHS data
  • Describe the importance of big data, the internet, and social media for proactive PHS structures and systems
  • Explain the most commonly used methods for evaluating PHS, as well as new models
  • Describe the need and challenges of determining ROI, cost utility, cost effectiveness, and cost benefit analysis
  • Describe recent outbreaks and the weaknesses they have demonstrated in national and international PHS
  • Describe the importance, obligation, and authority mandated by domestic and global PHS governance
  • Identify obstacles to sharing data and samples and how these barriers should be removed
  • Define One Health and its importance to PHS
  • Define biosurveillance and how it supports PHS
  • Recognize the importance and benefits of engaging communities in PHS
  • Identify the current efforts by the international community and WHO on interoperability and standards
  • Describe current approaches and advances in data manipulation and data visualization
  • Describe an optimal process for policy makers, PHS personnel, and academic modelers to collaboratively inform policy decisions
  • Explain the use of PHS to monitor the quality and capacity of health services, identify underserved populations, and inform new research priorities for ensuring health equity
  • Describe future challenges that need to be addressed for continued success in the transformation of PHS
  • Describe the technical and policy solutions that can be developed to transform PHS with an equity focus to strengthen efforts for global disease control, elimination and eradication, which leads to sustainable development



Basic understanding of public health surveillance

Course Reading List

McNabb, S.J., Conde, J.M., Ferland, L., MacWright, W., Memish, Z., Okutani, S., Park, M., Ryland, P., Shaikh, A., & Singh, V. (Eds.). (2016). Transforming Public Health Surveillance: Proactive Measures for Prevention, Detection, and Response. Amman, Jordan: Elsevier


Scott McNabb, PhD, MS

Prior to joining the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) and serving the 2-year EIS residency in New Orleans, LA, Dr. McNabb worked for 13 years at the Oklahoma State Health Department. Since 1993, most of his professional efforts have focused on serving those in underdeveloped, underserved global settings. Before retirement from CDC in 2010, he was Associate Director for Science; Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office; Office for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services. From 2006 – 2008, he directed the Division of Integrated Surveillance Systems and Services, National Center for Public Health Informatics, CDC. He is now Research Professor and Director of the King Abdullah Fellowship Program ( at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health. He teaches three classes at Rollins, GH 504 Effective Oral Communication; GH 592 Successful Scientific Writing; and GH 515 Transforming Public Health Surveillance. He also teaches Effective Oral Communication in short-course format at the University of Michigan Graduate Summer Session in Epidemiology ( and Transforming Public Health Surveillance in distance-learning format at the Epidemiology and Population Health Summer Institute at Columbia University ( Having mentored > 30 students through their M.P.H. or Ph.D., plus 14 fellows through the CDC Public Health Prevention Specialists program, he is jointly appointed in the Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of Epidemiology. He also holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health and Health Informatics, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Promoted to Distinguished Consultant in 2005 and nominated for the 2005 CDC Charles C. Shepard Award, he completed the 2004 Senior Executive Services (SES) candidate development program and is certified by the Office of Personnel Management. Dr. McNabb serves on the Editorial Board, Epidemiology and Global Health and in private practice as Managing Partner, Public Health Practice, LLC (


Affan Shaikh

Affan is a public health professional with interests in disease prevention and health systems strengthening. With over seven years of professional experience, Affan’s work engages multilateral stakeholders including inter- and intra- governmental organizations, academic intuitions, NGOs, and communities in building local public health capacities, improving health outcomes, and increasing access. He has worked on the ground across 22 different countries, and during the peak of the MERS-CoV outbreak in Saudi Arabia and following the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. Through his work, Affan is driven to strengthen health systems using evidence-based research. He has had numerous teaching engagements with Emory University, the University of Michigan, and Columbia University, where he has taught courses on public health surveillance, oral communication, and scientific writing.

He has successfully consulted with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous Ministries of Health throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and the World Health Organization. In addition to consulting, he serves as a Visiting Scientist for the National Academy of Sciences and as an International Board Member to the Saudi Arabia Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Affan holds an MPH in International Health from Boston University and a BA in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles. He resides in Los Angeles, California where he enjoys an active lifestyle, trying new restaurants, and planning new adventures.

Course Fee

Late registration discount before May 1, 2020: $1,000.00
After May 1, 2020: $1,000.00


The registration period has closed for this event.

Online Course Format


The on-line version of this course is meant to be a highly self-directed learning style that enables greater flexibility for course participants to complete the course objectives at the times and pace most conducive to the respective schedules of participants.

This course utilizes the learning management software, Canvas:

To get started all registrants will receive and e-mail inviting them to join on the first day of the course offering. Upon receiving the e-mail, participants should follow the instructions to get signed up for a Canvas account.

This is a full-length digital course, equivalent to approximately 20 hours of classroom instruction. Lectures and course material will be presented online in weekly segments. The flexible format will include video or audio recordings of lecture material, file sharing and topical discussion fora, self-assessment exercises, real-time electronic office hours and access to instructors for feedback during the course. Registrants for EPIC digital courses should have high-speed internet access.


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