What is the BEN?
The Bollettino Epidemiologico Nazionale (National Epidemiologic Bulletin;
BEN) of Italy was first published shortly after the earthquake in Irpinia in
1980 as a way of rapidly communicating epidemiologic data. During the 1980s
it proved to be a useful communication tool within the Italian public health
world, both for those who produced and those who analyzed surveillance data.
The Bollettino Epidemiologico Nazionale (National Epidemiologic Bulletin; BEN) of Italy was first published shortly after the earthquake in Irpinia in 1980 as a way of rapidly communicating epidemiologic data. During the 1980s it proved to be a useful communication tool within the Italian public health world, both for those who produced and those who analyzed surveillance data.
Fifteen years after the original BEN ceased publication, the BEN was re-launched. It responds to an increasing need for rapid communication between central and local levels on a variety of epidemiologic topics. Such communication has taken on increasing priority as the responsibility for health planning and organization of health services has devolved to regional and local levels. There has been a recognition of the need for professionals who are able to provide a solid epidemiologic foundation for the decisions that must be made on a day-to-day basis by local and regional health authorities. In Italy, the role of laws and circulars issued from central level and governing the decision-making process is being replaced by the need to prioritize health programs on a local level and develop locally appropriate, efficient, and economically sound solutions to local priorities.
The new BEN forms a bridge between epidemiologic practice and theory. It is meant to provide an open channel of communication to describe local experiences which may be of broader interest and generalizability and permits the opportunity to reflect on issues of relevance for the world of public health.
With respect to the format, the BEN hopes to remain flexible. In general, the contributions should be original in nature and illustrative of important public health problems. The reported studies should be useful in improving public health because they identify health problems (for example, obesity among pre-adolescents) or because they identify a solution to a health problem (for example, the experience of a local health agency which has not had any measles cases since 1991 when it implemented a two-dose measles vaccine policy for the children living in the area). In addition, it is hoped that the studies and the experiences described should be reasonably simple to carry out, even in circumstances where resources are limited.
For the above reasons, the editorial policy of the BEN envisions the inclusion of contributions of various types that fall into a number of different categories:Per i motivi suddetti, la politica editoriale del BEN prevede l’inclusione contributi di varia natura, che possono essere così ripartiti:
1. Reports from the field, which provide an "local epidemiologic story", which is the generalized through the comment that will accompany each contribution.
- Outbreak investigations, for example, food-borne illnesses or vaccine-preventable diseases
- Investigations of acute and chronic health problems or environmental exposures that have aroused public alarm
- Local studies of specific problems, such as smoking, obesity, drug use in adolescents, and breastfeeding
- Reports of interventions undertaken by local health agencies or regions.
In this section, the BEN intends to serve as a mirror of the state of health of the population. The editorial office will work with the authors to present the data in a clear and concise manner.
The responsibility for contents rests with the authors of each article.
The printed version of the BEN will remain exclusively in Italian, while the web-based verson will contain a complete English translation of all articles.
The BEN is an insert within the Notiziario dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanità. It has its own identity and style which is nonetheless in harmony with the graphics and general structure of the Notiziario. The BEN is the result of a close collaboration between the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biostatistics that receives and evaluates submissions for publication and the Editorial Services of the Istituto which provide editorial services and are responsible for the printing and diffusion of the BEN, both the paper and the web-based version. This collaboration involves a continuous exchange of ideas and ongoing efforts to further improve the BEN. Suggestions from within and outside the Istituto on how it can be further improved are welcomed.
The number of pages dedicated to the BEN will vary with the amount of information that is necessary to disseminate and may increase periodically with the release of major reports or initiatives or public health emergencies.
In the printed version, the BEN appears as the center pages which can easily be removed if desired for ease of copying or filing. It is readily identifiable within the BEN by a color-coded band at the top of each.