The Portuguese Paediatric Surveillance Unit (PPSU) is a scientific branch of the Portuguese Paediatric Society (SPP), with no state institutional links. It was established in June 2000 and began active surveillance in April 2001. The PPSU includes all registered paediatricians, paediatric surgeons, paediatric neurologists and paediatric cardiologists, as well as the residents of these specialties for a total of over 1,500 participants. Notification is individual, not institutional. Both postal and electronic notification is available for the return of both the postal card and the case inquiry.
During 2003, the return rate of notifying cards oscillated between 20% and 25%, amounting to circa 300 cards returned monthly. Of the 3,340 cards returned in 2003, 145 (4.34%) participants notified cases. More than 100 cards are electronically returned each month. The confirmation of notified cases is not yet closed as circa 50% of the case inquiries have not yet been returned.
So far, the PPSU has been able to confirm the national dimension of the surveillance system. Data confirm the utility of including non-hospital based physicians on the mailing list, particularly for some conditions under surveillance such as Diabetes. The large mailing list includes every paediatrician (or related specialist) in the country, both active and retired, as well as residents. The PPSU knows that this decision affects negatively the return rates, but it has elements that suggest that reporting cases of the diseases under surveillance is not negatively affected. This fact supports the decision of keeping every member of the Portuguese Paediatric Society on the mailing list, despite low return rates, at least for some time.
Dr Daniel Virella (Coordinator)
Portuguese Paediatric Society
R. Amilcar Cabral, 15-r/c I 1750-018,
Tel: 351 21 757 4680