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The Epidemiology Unit, with statistical capability, was first established in the Ministry of Health, in 1976, with the assistance of the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) which began operations then in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. The aim at that time was to assist countries to prevent the occurrence of the infectious diseases that were endemic, to the sub-region.  CAREC provided training and materials to its member countries and functioned as a reference epidemiology facility providing laboratory and statistical support.

CAREC also trained and provided technical assistance in the area of biostatistics. The trained officer in turn provided support which usually involved weekly compilations of notifiable diseases, monthly compilations of health centre reports and annual preparation of health statistics into the Chief Medical Officer’s Report, all done manually.

Over time, the capability of the staff giving the support has grown, beyond simple statistical tabulations to analyses, some research capability having occurred in response to an increased need for more sophisticated, technical support.

The need for computer operation arose therefore under a PAHO project, the National Statistician or Statistical Officer evolved into a Health Information Unit which is now called the Epidemiology and Information Unit.

The Epidemiology Unit recognises that timely dissemination of surveillance data to those who need to know is critical for proper planning and decision making.  Thus planners and program managers are informed of the important causes of morbidity, mortality, disease trends and advice on preventative and control measures.  There are certain hindrances however, in providing comprehensive health data on a timely basis since reports from supporting units are not always timely or complete.

PURPOSE

To ensure the preservation of an improved national health status through communicable and non communicable disease surveillance and preventative/control activities.

COMPOSITION

The Epidemiology and Information Unit comprises of six (6) staff members which consists of the Two Epidemiologist, a Surveillance Officer, a Health Information Officer and two computer operators (one of which is the national mortality coder).

DEVELOPMENT PHASE

Strengths

-     Surveillance

  • An award was received from CAREC because of the timely reporting of weekly communicable diseases.   Grenada was one of the countries with the best reporting record.

-     Data analysis

  • The Unit has improved its data analysis capabilities due to increased demands for specific data.

-      Information dissemination

  • The Unit is seen as the main channel for providing data to the public and internal customers.  Because of the organized structure under which the Unit now operates, data requests are more complete and timely.

-      System development

  • The Unit has been providing support to the IT Unit of the Ministry in the development of the new electronic health information system which is carded to come on stream in 2013.

Strategy for team strengthening

  • Improved Communication
  • Staff motivation – training, awards, delegation
  • Maintain meeting schedule
  • Stick to priority issues – time management
  • Ensure the execution  of team building activities