General trends

1. Key messages

To be continued

2. Background

3. Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs)

The children’s vaccination program in Belgium, which includes now 8 vaccines covering 12 pathogens (poliomyelitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, meningitis, etc.) reaches an over 90% vaccine coverage in the three regions, thus achieving a significant reduction of most childhood diseases, well demonstrated by the diphtheria example.

Diphteria infections in Belgium, 1946-2017
Source: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, Sciensano
HSR CD diphteria

A continuous evaluation of the vaccine program and trends of the VPDs is done in order to update vaccine policies in case of variations of the natural and post-vaccine immunity of the population, the emergence of new strains, the reduction of vaccine efficacy.

4. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Chlamydia is the most common STI in Belgium and registered cases are the highest among young women. Trends in Gonorrhea and Syphilis have also been rising since 2002. Most cases are registered among men. Overall, the increasing trends of registered STI cases reflects an increase in testing and screening practices. Routine surveillance is completed by community surveys to identify the most important behavioral risk factors and evaluate the impact of prevention campaigns.

Number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported cases/100,000 in Belgium, 2002-2017
Source: Sentinel laboratories network, Sciensano

The HIV epidemic in Belgium is concentrated mainly in two populations: men who have sex with men (MSM), mainly Belgian or of European nationalities; people who have contracted the virus through heterosexual sex, mainly from sub-Saharan African countries. Diagnosis among MSM currently accounts for 49% of new infections for which the mode of infection has been reported, and transmission through heterosexual contact accounts for 48% of newly reported infections. A decrease in the number of diagnoses in these two populations has been observed since 2013.

Number of new HIV diagnosis in Belgium, 1998-2017
Source: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, Sciensano
HSR CD hiv

5. Influenza

Each year, between 300 000 and 900 000 people visit their GP because of influenza-like illness in Belgium, estimating the annual number of influenza infections at between 116 000 and 472 000.

Number of influenza-like illness related GP visits per 100,000 inhabitants in Belgium, 2008-2018
Source: Sentinel laboratories network, Sciensano
HSR CD influenza

Influenza remains a high burden for Belgium despite the availability of vaccine, as the coverage (varying between 32 and 47%) remains below the target of 75% for persons at risk of developing complications (European Council recommendation, 2009).

A sentinel network of 6 hospitals monitors indicators of severity. On average, 14% of patients hospitalized because of a confirmed influenza infection, have severe complications and 6% die in the course of the hospital stay.

Severity of influenza infections in Belgium, 2011-2019
Source: Sentinel hospitals network, Sciensano
HSR CD influenza severity

6. Read more