From habits of attrition to modes of inclusion: enhancing the role of private practitioners in routine disease surveillance

Phalkey, Revati K., Butsch, Carsten, Belesova, Kristine, Kroll, Mareike and Kraas, Frauke (2017) From habits of attrition to modes of inclusion: enhancing the role of private practitioners in routine disease surveillance. BMC Health Services Research, 17 . 599/1-599/15. ISSN 1472-6963

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Private practitioners are the preferred first point of care in a majority of low and middle-income countries and in this position, best placed for the surveillance of diseases. However their contribution to routine surveillance data is marginal. This systematic review aims to explore evidence with regards to the role, contribution, and involvement of private practitioners in routine disease data notification. We examined the factors that determine the inclusion of, and the participation thereof of private practitioners in disease surveillance activities.


Literature search was conducted using the PubMed, Web of Knowledge, WHOLIS, and WHO-IRIS databases to identify peer reviewed and gray full-text documents in English with no limits for year of publication or study design. Forty manuscripts were reviewed.


The current participation of private practitioners in disease surveillance efforts is appalling. The main barriers to their participation are inadequate knowledge leading to unsatisfactory attitudes and misperceptions that influence their practices. Complicated reporting mechanisms with unclear guidelines, along with unsatisfactory attitudes on behalf of the government and surveillance program managers also contribute to the underreporting of cases. Infrastructural barriers especially the availability of computers and skilled human resources are critical to improving private sector participation in routine disease surveillance.


The issues identified are similar to those for underreporting within the Integrated infectious Disease Surveillance and Response systems (IDSR) which collects data mainly from public healthcare facilities. We recommend that surveillance program officers should provide periodic training, supportive supervision and offer regular feedback to the practitioners from both public as well as private sectors in order to improve case notification. Governments need to take leadership and foster collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors and most importantly exercise regulatory authority where needed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: private-practitioners participation, disease surveillance, barriers and facilitators
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Epidemiology and Public Health
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Claringburn, Tara
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 09:52
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:02

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