HPSC: What do we do

HPSC’s mission is to improve the health of the Irish population by providing the best, and most timely, information on disease including infectious diseases. This is achieved through disease surveillance, providing independent advice, and conducting epidemiological investigation and related research and training.

Disease surveillance is an information-based activity involving the collection, analysis and interpretation of large amounts of data from a variety of sources.

The information collated is then used in a number of ways to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of control and preventative health measures
  • Monitor changes in infectious agents, for example, trends in development of antimicrobial resistance
  • Support health planning and the allocation of appropriate resources within the healthcare system
  • Identify high risk populations or target areas for intervention
  • Provide a valuable archive of disease activity for future reference

To be effective, the collection of surveillance data must be standardised on a national basis and be made available at local, regional and national level. HPSC plays an important role in forecasting and responding to disease outbreaks and incidents of regional, national and international significance.

HPSC has six main areas of responsibility:

1. Surveillance of some of the major communicable diseases. Surveillance means:

  • Collecting data
  • Collating it
  • Analysing it and
  • Communicating information to those who need to know

2. Operational support - providing expert advice to, and responding to requests for support from, departments of public health or hospitals

3. Training communicable disease control professionals

4. Research - identifying and developing best practice in communicable diseases

5. Policy advice - providing advice to government departments and relevant agencies about developing standards, guidelines and practices, and promoting the adoption of best practice by different agencies

6. Public information - providing information on infectious diseases to the public and the media