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Evidence Based Public Health

Untangling Public Health Surveillance and the Developments of a Learning Public Health System in Canada

Our College of Medicine Research Award (COMRAD) funded project will be leveraged directly into our Canadian Foundation for Innovation grant proposal where our ambitions are to develop the Integrated National Public Health Observatory (INPHO) that captures the to-date un-reported collated local public health surveillance information into one data hub. 

The COMRAD research project will administer three concurrent mini-projects listed below:

  1. Map of public health surveillance systems in Canada: As a first step toward building the kind of data and infrastructure Canadian researchers and decision makers need to inform public health practice, we will begin by mapping the organization of public health surveillance as it currently exists in this country.
  2. Development of glossary of terms for comparative research on public health surveillance in Canada: Public health surveillance technology systems and the language used to describe them are highly idiosyncratic throughout the country. These local particularities make it difficult to discuss public health surveillance in Canada in general terms and to relate concepts and data across regions to conduct comparative research.
  3. Domestic and international indicators surveys: Divergent local and provincial public health surveillance systems throughout the country do not collect all the same surveillance information in the same ways. As a first major step toward developing the infrastructure that is needed to advance a comparative understanding of public health outcomes in Canada, this project will construct a survey that will be administered to each of the 23 UPHN members to identify which surveillance indicators they collect and how.

The mini-projects are each designed to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the key institutions and institutional actors collecting and administering public health surveillance in Canada?
  2. Public health surveillance is organized and managed at the local level throughout the country; what are the generic terms that we can use to discuss it at the national level?
  3. What are the specific surveillance indicators being recorded by local public health units in Canada and how do these compare to indicators being recorded internationally?
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