Food safety

Surveillance of foodborne diseases

26 January 2018


The new WHO manual, Strengthening surveillance of and response to foodborne diseases, describes how countries can strengthen their current foodborne disease surveillance and response activities and integrate them into existing national surveillance and response systems required by the International Health Regulations (IHR).

How it works

Step1: Self-assessment

Countries begin with an assessment of their surveillance and response system for foodborne diseases to determine what stage their system is at. Annex 3 in the Introductory Module contains a self-assessment tool to be used for this purpose. Improving surveillance and response is made possible through the assessment of the capacities that currently exist in a country and identifying areas where further development is required.

Step 2: Identify relevant tools and guidance

The structure of the country self-assessment tool matches the structure of the entire manual, with each of the 10 strategic goals and indicators dealt with individually. If the self-assessment shows that a country does not possess the necessary capacities for a particular activity, the manual provides specific advice on how to build capacity.

Step 3: Use decision-trees

In most sections of the manual, decision-trees provide a step-by-step guide to the capacities required for sustainable development of the FBD surveillance and response system. These decision-trees can be referred to once a country completes its self-assessment to determine the steps needed to strengthen surveillance and response.

Step 4: Map the next steps

The “Managing implementation” section of each stage module contains a tool that can help countries map the next steps needed to develop their system. Countries can identify specific areas to focus on by prioritizing actions. This process should identify specific tasks that can be completed within a 2–3 year time frame, as well as the capacities that need to be developed in the longer term.