The Public Health Surveillance and Response Division was established incorporating GERMS-SA, Outbreak Response and Travel Health.
The division facilitates communication and data sharing between the national and provincial health departments and the NICD, and provide epidemiological input to other NICD units through collaborative projects and support of surveillance and epidemiological activities and outbreak responses.
The Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response (DPHSR) includes the GERMS-SA surveillance programme, the Epidemiology Support Unit (responsible for provincial epidemiology support and the national notifiable medical conditions) and the Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), responsible for the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). Together, these three Units contribute significantly to national communicable disease surveillance and response efforts. Furthermore, these activities undergird and support the surveillance and research activities of the NICD centres.
Globally, there is increasing pressure from the World Health Assembly that member states adhere to the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005). Signatory countries have been requested to host a ‘Joint External Evaluation’ of adherence to requirements of the IHR, which include activities to support prevention, detection and response to communicable disease, chemical and radiation events. The NICD contribution included capacity for communicable disease diagnostics, disease surveillance and technical support for response activities fulfil and support many of the requirements of the IHR. The EOC supported by the ORU is able to provide coordination and management of public health events of national and regional concern through the use of an incident management system and dedicated staff. Further, on account of these capacities, the NICD is a key role-player in national, regional and international responses to public health threats. The DPHSR collaborates and co-operates with the National Department of Health, the National Disaster Management Centre, the National Joint Operations Committee in support of the IHR. Disease intelligence emanating from NICD surveillance activities is reported regularly through the Multinational Outbreak Response Team, and to other government structures as the need arises