Epi Info is a public domain software package designed for health practitioners and researchers. In recent years it has been changed and upgraded to a Windows version to succeed the once popular DOS version. The latest release, Epi Info, version 3.2 is a much more stable software and is already quite popular globally. Because it is a free package it is perhaps the best option at this time for the majority of Pacific Island country health professionals.
With Epi Info and a personal computer, public health professionals can rapidly develop a questionnaire or design a database, customise data entry processes, enter and analyse data, and construct maps and graphs. These functions — especially the epidemiological statistics, tables, graphs and maps — are easily produced using simple commands such as READ, FREQ, LIST, TABLE, GRAPH and MAP.
The latest Epi Info version for Windows also retains many features of the familiar Epi Info for DOS, while offering Windows ease-of-use strengths such as point and click commands, graphics, fonts and printing. Key features include:
- Maximum compatibility with industry standards, including:
- Microsoft access and other SQL and ODBC databases
- Visual Basic, version 6
- World wide web browsers and HTML
- Extensibility, so that organisations outside CDC can produce additional modules
- Epi Report, a tool that allows the user to combine analysis output, enter data or any data already contained
in access or SQL server, and present it in a professional format. Generated reports can be saved as HTML
files for easy distribution or web publishing.
- Epi Map, an ArcView ® – compatible GIS
- NutStat, a nutrition anthropometry program that calculates percentiles and Z-scores using either the 2000
- CDC or 1978 CDC/WHO growth reference
- Logistic regression and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis
- Data Compare does double data entry comparison
- Epi Lock password protects, encrypts and compresses Epi Info data
- Teaching exercises
- Allows analysis and import of other file types.
System requirements include:
- Windows 95,98, NT 4.0,2000, XP, or ME
- 32 MB of Random Access Memory, More RAM: 64MB for Windows 4.0
- 2000, 128 MB for Windows XP
- 200 Mega hertz processor is recommended – 300 for Windows XP
- At least 260 megabytes of free hard disk space (drive C) to install; 130 megabytes after installation
These specifications are generally available on standard new personal computers.
SPC’s PHS&CDC Section is taking an active interest in the latest Epi Info 2003 by hosting a “train the trainers” workshop, and perhaps later, extending this training to the region. The PHS&CDC Section also intends to modify its training materials to ensure relevance and compatibility. In addition, it is keen on building the interface with other sections of SPC on certain EPI Info software features such as Map Info and GIS. The PHS&CDC Section recommends the use of this software for research, surveillance data analysis, or for outbreak investigations data analysis in PICTs.
In view of the many advantages of the software to the Pacific region, the PHS&CDC Section is keen on ensuring the spread of this software training through its PPHSN framework of training and education. The overall goal is to improve surveillance and response in the region. A website devoted to the dissemination of these softwares, including tutorials for their use, can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/epiinfo
If PPHSN or PICT members require copies of the software, especially if they are having difficulties with Internet access or downloading, then SPC’s PHS&CDC Section will endeavour to assist. Likewise, if training assistance for this software is required in Pacific Island countries and territories, then it could be sourced through SPC’s PHS&CDC Section, PPHSN, or the Fiji School of Medicine, School of Public Health and Primary Care.
Dr Narendra Singh
Communicable Disease Surveillance Specialist