APH 2005, 63, 171-184:

Surveillance, a key strategy in the elimination of diseases.
The case of polio and measles surveillance in Belgium.

T. Lernout, V. Van Casteren

Keywords: elimination, eradication, measles, poliomyelitis, surveillance

The European Region of WHO has been certified polio-free in June 2002 and a global eradication goal for polio has been set. Surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in children less than 15 years old plays a crucial role in monitoring possible cases of paralytic poliomyelitis and provides evidence of the elimination of indigenous wild poliovirus transmission in a region or country.

Elimination of measles in the European Region is targeted by 2010. Recommended strategies for reaching this goal focus on achieving very high coverage (≥ 95%) with 2 doses of measles vaccine and strengthening surveillance systems with laboratory confirmation of all suspected measles cases.

In Belgium, a joint surveillance system for AFP and measles was initiated in October 2002. Surveillance occurs through a monthly voluntary reporting system by paediatricians and general practitioners. On average 25% of physicians participate each month in the surveillance.

Substantial progress has been made in 2004 towards better surveillance of AFP in Belgium, but further efforts are needed to improve completeness of reporting and improve the quality of virological investigation of AFP cases.

Moving further towards elimination of measles in Belgium, measles surveillance will need to be expanded to all physicians. Meanwhile, additional information on the number of measles cases is collected through a network of sentinel laboratories and through school health services in order to improve the quality of the surveillance.