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Edited by D McQueen, P Puska. Kuwer Academics/Plenum, 2003, $65.00, pp 255. ISBN 0-306-47777-7
This book is a godsend to those working in the area of monitoring and understanding changes overtime in chronic disease risk factors. It is a collection of 18 chapters authored by experts around the world and provides a comprehensive insight into establishing and maintaining the surveillance of behavioural risk factors both in developed and developing countries.
The examples of behavioural risk factor surveillance systems in a variety of international settings provide not only a glimpse into the diversity of issues but also suggest creative solutions to these challenges. Furthermore, what makes this book a practical public health resource are topics such as analysis, interpretation, comparison, and use of behavioural risk factor surveillance data. This book will serve as a guide for those new to chronic disease surveillance but there is plenty here for the seasoned public health professionals looking to hone their skills. I was pleased to see the reporting of the essence of the discussions that occurred at the four global meetings on risk factor surveillance attended by international community members beginning in 1999.
The authors have successfully shown that the global burden of disease is changing and chronic diseases are important health problems in industrialised as well as developing countries. This shift calls for urgency and action to create an applied global surveillance system that would permit comparison of chronic disease risk factor trends, similarities, and experiences across populations. Surveillance of chronic disease risk factors is essential in planning and evaluating disease prevention and health programmes and policies.