Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 42–44 | Cite as

The Global Public Health Intelligence Network and Early Warning Outbreak Detection

A Canadian Contribution to Global Public Health
  • Eric MykhalovskiyEmail author
  • Lorna Weir


The recent SARS epidemic has renewed widespread concerns about the global transmission of infectious diseases. In this commentary, we explore novel approaches to global infectious disease surveillance through a focus on an important Canadian contribution to the area–the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). GPHIN is a cutting-edge initiative that draws on the capacity of the Internet and newly available 24/7 global news coverage of health events to create a unique form of early warning outbreak detection.

This commentary outlines the operation and development of GPHIN and compares it to ProMED-mail, another Internet-based approach to global health surveillance. We argue that GPHIN has created an important shift in the relationship of public health and news information. By exiting the pyramid of official reporting, GPHIN has created a new monitoring technique that has disrupted national boundaries of outbreak notification, while creating new possibilities for global outbreak response. By incorporating news within the emerging apparatus of global infectious disease surveillance, GPHIN has effectively responded to the global media’s challenge to official country reporting of outbreak and enhanced the effectiveness and credibility of international public health.

MeSH terms

Public health surveillance epidemics news world health communicable diseases 


L’épidémie récente de SRAS a renouvelé la crainte généralisée que des maladies infectieuses ne se propagent dans le monde entier. Dans le présent commentaire, nous analysons de nouvelles approches de surveillance mondiale des maladies infectieuses par le biais d’un important outil canadien dans ce domaine: le Réseau d’information sur la santé mondiale (RISM). Ce réseau est une initiative d’avant-garde qui mise sur la capacité d’Internet et sur la nouvelle possibilité d’obtenir une couverture mondiale en temps réel de l’actualité du domaine de la santé pour créer un système d’alerte rapide en cas de flambée épidémique.

Nous décrivons ici le fonctionnement et l’évolution du RISM, que nous comparons à ProMED-mail, un autre outil en ligne de surveillance mondiale de la santé. Nous faisons valoir que le RISM a été la cause d’un changement important dans la relation entre la santé publique et l’actualité. En contournant la hiérarchie de notification officielle, le RISM a créé une nouvelle technique de surveillance qui a perturbé les frontières nationales de notification des épidémies tout en ouvrant de nouvelles possibilités d’intervention mondiale en cas de flambée. En intégrant l’actualité dans le nouvel appareil de surveillance mondiale des maladies infectieuses, le RISM a réussi à relever le défi lancé par les médias aux organes nationaux de notification officielle des épidémies, tout en améliorant l’efficacité et la crédibilité de la santé publique internationale.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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