Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit (IDCU) - EPIET
Maria Louise Borg, Supervisor
Tel. +356 23266122
Description of the institute
The Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit (IDCU) within the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate is the national surveillance centre for communicable diseases in Malta. The main aim of the unit is "to study episodes and trends of disease with a view to prevention and control." The main objectives of the IDCU are:
- To undertake surveillance of communicable diseases in Malta.
- To improve reporting of notifiable diseases by creating methods that would encourage early notification.
- To disseminate relevant, accurate and timely information.
- To undertake responsibility for the control of infection through timely investigation and management of incidents of communicable diseases.
- To undertake epidemiological research.
- To provide advice on communicable diseases to health professionals and the general public.
- To contribute to training in communicable disease control.
Surveillance of communicable diseases
This includes the collection of data on statutory notifiable communicable diseases by routine reporting from general practitioners, hospitals and medical diagnostic laboratories. Data is also collected from active surveillance of hospitals and laboratories. Enhanced surveillance programmes exist for influenza, using sentinel practice. Reports of deaths directly attributed to notifiable infectious diseases are provided by the Department of Health Information, which processes all death certificates. This constitutes another source of notifications. For urgent notifications; a 24-hour on-call service operates via Mater Dei Hospital switchboard. Data is analysed and their interpretation is disseminated to those who require it for preventive action. The unit issues quarterly and annual reports.
Investigation and control of communicable disease
Public Health Medical doctors at IDCU investigate all reported cases of infectious diseases. Any necessary environmental action is coordinated through health inspectors within the Environmental Health Directorate. The Chest Unit, within the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate is responsible for data collection in cases of tuberculosis. It also carries out public health preventive measures related to tuberculosis including screening. Outbreak control teams are set up to investigate and follow up outbreaks for timely control measures to be taken.
Research is carried out in communicable diseases. It includes analytical studies such as cohort and case-control studies and descriptive studies such as cross-sectional studies.
Teaching and training in communicable disease epidemiology
Three of the unit's staff have Masters Degrees in Public Health Medicine and one has a Ph.D. in communicable disease epidemiology. One member of staff also underwent the EPIET Programme (Cohort 2011). IDCU staff also teach in modules of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the University of Malta.
The IDCU has a website which contains information on communicable diseases including statistics, reports, leaflets and general information.
- Surveillance: There are opportunities for evaluation of existing surveillance systems and how to improve them.
- Outbreak investigations: Participation in outbreak investigation including epidemiological investigation.
- Research projects: There are a number of opportunities to undertake research projects including case control studies, cross sectional, etc.
A suitable trainer for the EPIET fellow will be identified for the period of her/his training. For specific tasks and assignments, the fellow will be supervised by the appropriate consultant for the particular project.
English language will be required.
Number of EPIET fellows trained at institute: One EPIET-EU track fellow assigned to the unit in 2016 and successfully completed the fellowship. Another EPIET-EU track fellow assigned to the unit in 2018.