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Media Scanning & Verification



The World Bank, in its various missions, suggested establishing a mechanism at CSU and SSU/DSU for detection of unusual health events through media and other unconventional sources. Media Scanning & Verification Cell (MSVC) was established on 24th July 2008 under IDSP at NCDC, Delhi for providing supplemental information on early detection of outbreaks in India so that a timely and an appropriate action can be taken. Media Scanning & Verification Cell is an “Early Warning System” (EWS) that gathers preliminary reports of public health significance on a real time basis and immediately disseminate the information to the users electronically for verification. This unique system monitors Global and National Media sources such as National and Regional print media, news on internet, newswires and websites, news channels and news shared by partners like Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), Canada, WHO and other International and national agencies.

Media scanning and verification cell at CSU and SSUs works  through daily screening of press both local and national, TV (national and regional channels), Radio and other media channels which reports on suspected outbreaks or unusual health events. The information is shared to the districts affected and DSO is expected to investigate and revert through the internet about the correctness and action taken. MSVC receives around 2-3 media alerts of unusual health events daily. A total of 2,925 health alerts have been detected till September 2014 2013 since its establishment in July 2008.  Majority of them were Food poisoning, Dengue and Diarrhoeal Diseases. The system has detected many outbreaks through the conventional system in their incipient stages and helped in their containments at early stages. Media scanning & verification cell is managed by trained Epidemiologists and Public Health Consultants working in Central Surveillance Unit of IDSP. The major part of work is manual with two rounds of screening by experts that fulfills issues regarding quality assurance. Media Surveillance increases the sensitivity of the official surveillance systems.

Figure 10.1 :The Plan of action of Media Scanning & Verification Cell (MSVC)

Experience so far:

     1. It helps in tracking further spread of disease & enhanced outbreak reporting by States/UTs

     2. During parliament sessions MSVC has been extensively used for keeping the lawmakers abreast with the status on the media reported disease outbreaks

     3. The system is very cost effective – the cell has potential to be replicated to, at all levels of IDSP with minimum cost involved.

     4. Many states like Karnataka have now established state level media scanning cells which have further strengthened their surveillance systems and also increased the regional coverage.

Way forward

     1. Regular feedback to all states regarding alerts sent so far for which reports have not been shared.

     2. Encourage States to establish similar units at State/District levels.

     3. Improve routine follow-up & timeliness of reporting by States/Districts

     4. Obtain/analyze No. of outbreaks detected & positive predictive value

     5. Correlate MSVC data with outbreak report data analysis

     6. Standardize SOPs for alert detection & scrutiny to bring in uniformity.