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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X

Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.14  suppl.1 São Paulo Sep. 2011 




National health surveys



Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr.

Vice-Minister of Health Surveillance



The present issue of Brazilian Journal of Epidemiology comprises the results of two key national health surveys: Telephone-based Surveillance of Risk and Protective Factors for Chronic Diseases (VIGITEL) and National Survey of School Health (PeNSE).

VIGITEL was established in 2006 in all Brazilian state capitals and the Federal District, under the coordination of the Ministry of Health through the Health Surveillance Secretariat, and supported by the Center for Health and Nutrition Research (Núcleo de Pesquisas Epidemiológicas em Nutrição e Saúde - NUPENS) of Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It consists of telephone interviews with adults (aged 18 years or more) living in all Brazilian state capitals and the Federal District who have a telephone landline. These criteria include over 54 thousand interviews per year.

Health surveys such as VIGITEL provide the officials with epidemiological information regarding the adult population, and enable the planning of health promotion actions; therefore, it is an important tool for health surveillance. To reach this goal, VIGITEL must be performed annually and gather data for further historical analysis of health indicators, which is essential to consolidate the surveillance and control of non-communicable diseases in the country.

This issue of RBE includes analyses of the main health indicators based on VIGITEL data, and portrays the trends in the population health and major risk factors for chronic diseases. It also has comparative studies involving VIGITEL and household surveys, as well as validation studies on new modules that provide background to further studies and the improvement of the system.

The fifth edition of VIGITEL (2010) included data on communicable diseases for the first time in order to meet the challenges imposed by the pandemic H1N1 in 2009. The most relevant results of this monitoring are also contemplated.

PeNSE was first performed in 2009 to monitor the population behavior with regard to chronic diseases and violence, being supported by the Ministry of Health, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), and the Ministry of Education.

This survey collects data on freshman scholars in the 26 state capitals and the Federal District, gathers information about risk and protective factors for chronic diseases in this age group, and takes part in the activities for the surveillance of non-communicable diseases and infections in Brazil.

Adolescence is the phase in which individuals become autonomous and go through transformations that may lead them to adopt certain behaviors and attitudes or expose themselves to situations and risks that can cause health problems in the future. We present some studies on tobacco use and the consumption of alcohol and other drugs related to sexual behavior in this age group, which show the magnitude of the problem and the need for interventional actions - especially in the school environment.

All papers have been written by research institutions in association with the Ministry of Health. The information contained in each article was compiled from the records by the National Health System (SUS - Sistema Único de Saúde) and represents the current situation of the Brazilian Society as to non-communicable diseases and infections, as well as the perspectives. The full disclosure of these data is mandatory for the creation of public policies of health prevention and promotion that address the leading risks to health, and contributes with the improvement of our health surveillance system.