Foodborne Disease Investigations, Including Surveillance: A Collaborative Pilot Project

Ali Ardalan

Epidemiologist, Research Center for

Gastroenterology and Liver Disease


Surveillance of foodborne diseases is receiving increased priority in the public health agenda of many countries. It is instrumental in estimating the burden of foodborne disease, assessing its relative impact on health and economics, and evaluating disease prevention and control programs. It allows rapid detection and response to outbreaks. In addition, it is a major source of information for conducting risk assessment and, more broadly, for risk management and communication.

Ideally, foodborne disease surveillance should be integrated with food monitoring data along the entire feed-food chain. Integrating such data would result in robust surveillance information and allow appropriate priority setting and public health intervention. For this purpose, intersectoral and interinstitutional collaboration are of paramount importance. Therefore, within Iran a strategic plan was developed by the highest authorities. Proposing a plan to integrate the different organizational activities that are involved in food safety is the concern of the Commission on Health and Medicine of the Iranian Parliament.

The main organization in charge of foodborne disease surveillance is the Department of Food and Waterborne Disease at the Center for Disease Control in the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The focus of the current system is the Health Network, mainly active in rural areas, to report dysentery and cholera and to detect outbreaks; however, sporadic cases are not receiving sufficient attention. Physicians in Iran must report cases of certain diseases, such as polio, measles, and diphtheria, but there is no obligation to report cases of foodborne disease. In addition, in the Health Network, physicians are expected to report cases of dysentery and suspect cholera, but there is no reporting of other foodborne diseases. The same is true about



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