A systematic review on integration mechanisms in human and animal health surveillance systems with a view to addressing global health security threats

Janeth George, Barbara HäslerIrene MremiCalvin SindatoLeonard MboeraMark Rweyemamu & James Mlangwa 



Health surveillance is an important element of disease prevention, control, and management. During the past two decades, there have been several initiatives to integrate health surveillance systems using various mechanisms ranging from the integration of data sources to changing organizational structures and responses. The need for integration is caused by an increasing demand for joint data collection, use and preparedness for emerging infectious diseases.


To review the integration mechanisms in human and animal health surveillance systems and identify their contributions in strengthening surveillance systems attributes.


The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 checklist. Peer-reviewed articles were searched from PubMed, HINARI, Web of Science, Science Direct and advanced Google search engines. The review included articles published in English from 1900 to 2018. The study selection considered all articles that used quantitative, qualitative or mixed research methods. Eligible articles were assessed independently for quality by two authors using the QualSyst Tool and relevant information including year of publication, field, continent, addressed attributes and integration mechanism were extracted.


A total of 102 publications were identified and categorized into four pre-set integration mechanisms: interoperability (35), convergent integration (27), semantic consistency (21) and interconnectivity (19). Most integration mechanisms focused on sensitivity (44.1%), timeliness (41.2%), data quality (23.5%) and acceptability (17.6%) of the surveillance systems. Generally, the majority of the surveillance system integrations were centered on addressing infectious diseases and all hazards. The sensitivity of the integrated systems reported in these studies ranged from 63.9 to 100% (median = 79.6%, n = 16) and the rate of data quality improvement ranged from 73 to 95.4% (median = 87%, n = 4). The integrated systems were also shown improve timeliness where the recorded changes were reported to be ranging from 10 to 91% (median = 67.3%, n = 8).


Interoperability and semantic consistency are the common integration mechanisms in human and animal health surveillance systems. Surveillance system integration is a relatively new concept but has already been shown to enhance surveillance performance. More studies are needed to gain information on further surveillance attributes.


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