To develop and operate a routine public health mortality monitoring system aimed at detecting and measuring, on a real-time basis, excess number of deaths related to influenza and other possible public health threats across European countries.
Mortality is a basic indicator of health and an understanding of its epidemiology is fundamental for effective public health planning and action. In most instances, however, vital statistics are not readily available in a timely manner during health crises or for imminent health threats. However, decision-makers will request such data in case of the threat of epidemics or the emergence of new diseases (e.g. pandemic influenza, AIDS, SARS). The project will develop and coordinate a system that can provide relevant mortality data during a pandemic or other serious public health threat. It will create a wide European network to suit member states with different demographic structure, geography, climate and health care structure. It will thus provide a model for a real-time mortality monitoring system that is reproducible and sustainable in all EU member states.
The main actions of the project will include: (a) an inventory of existing mortality monitoring systems (b) definition of minimal requirements for a mortality monitoring system (c) retrospective analysis of mortality data (d) identification of a uniform analytical approach, and (e) piloting of a consensus system for real-time mortality modelling in several European countries. The methods include a questionnaire survey to EU member states; creation of working groups; a literature review; analysis of national mortality datasets using state-of-the-art statistical models and operation of the pilot consensus system built upon these activities. Dissemination encompasses publication of reports, a website, participation in scientific conferences, publication of peer reviewed papers, and the organisation of a European workshop.
The project will increase the European capacity to assess and manage risks associated with major health threats, including pandemic influenza and other infectious or non-infectious public health events with a severe impact. This will, in particular, increase the European capacity to monitor the spread of a future pandemic of influenza, measure its impact on mortality, determine whether changes in mortality are limited to specific countries/areas or occur in more than one member state, and thus enhance the evidence base for risk managers to target interventions and to prioritise resources.