Strengthening Global Public Health Surveillance Through Data and Benefit Sharing

Michael Edelstein; Lisa M. Lee; Asha Herten-Crabb; David L. Heymann; David R. Harper


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2018;24(7):1324-1330. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Equitable sharing of public health surveillance data can help prevent or mitigate the effect of infectious diseases. Equitable data sharing includes working toward more equitable sharing of the public health benefits that data sharing brings and requires the engagement of those providing the data, those interpreting and using the data generated by others, those facilitating the data-sharing process, and those deriving and contributing to the benefit. An expert consultation conducted by Chatham House outlined 7 principles to encourage the process of equitable data sharing: 1) building trust; 2) articulating the value; 3) planning for data sharing; 4) achieving quality data; 5) understanding the legal context; 6) creating data-sharing agreements; and 7) monitoring and evaluation. Sharing of public health surveillance data is best done taking into account these principles, which will help to ensure data are shared optimally and ethically, while fulfilling stakeholder expectations and facilitating equitable distribution of benefits.


Global outbreaks, including those of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome, and Ebola virus disease, remind us that a public health event in a single location can rapidly become a global crisis. Control of infectious diseases can therefore be considered a global public good, and public health surveillance is a tool that helps achieve it. Timely sharing of public health surveillance data enables better preparedness and response, locally and globally.