Training Workshop on Human Influenza Surveillance and Control
A Training Workshop on Influenza Surveillance and Control was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 26 – 28 April 2005. The workshop was attended by 24 participants from 12 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, South East Asia Region and Western Pacific Region, 20 temporary advisors from member states and from WHO influenza collaborating centres, and seven WHO secretariats from WHO Headquarter, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, and WHO representative’s office in member countries. Additionally, there were 13 observers from three countries.
The objectives of the workshop were:
1) To have better understanding of influenza surveillance, epidemiology and disease burden assessment, especially in tropical and sub-tropical countries and countries with limited resources in Asia-Pacific region;
2) To increase the knowledge of influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs: current situation and future policy development;
3) To provide update on the WHO influenza surveillance guidelines;
4) To have continuing discussion on: 1) development of mid-term plan to establish better national influenza surveillance, and 2) development of feasible surveillance system for influenza strains with pandemic potential including H5N1;
5) To provide an orientation to the nine countries that were awarded cooperative agreement with US CDC on strengthening influenza surveillance in the NICs; and
6) To discuss on how to set up NIC with the countries which do not currently have NIC. The workshop consisted of global updates on influenza surveillance activities, experts’ lectures on influenza surveillance, influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs, and influenza disease burden assessment. Country presentations on national influenza surveillance and influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs were also important part of this workshop. US-CDC provided an orientation to the nine countries that were awarded cooperative agreement on strengthening influenza surveillance in the NICs. For the countries that do not current have NIC, an opportunity was provided for them to discuss with the experts on how to setup NIC in their countries. A hands-on session was provided for participants to practice two computer software programmes on influenza disease burden assessment and pandemic preparedness: FluAid and FluSurge.
After the 3 round-table discussions on influenza surveillance, vaccine and antiviral drugs use, and disease burden assessment, the workshop concluded and recommended that: 1) each country should develop a plan on improving / establishing influenza surveillance with short, medium, and long term objectives, and make existing surveillance plans available for reference for other countries willing to improve/establish influenza surveillance; 2) all governments in the region are strongly recommended to establish an influenza immunization policy and control programmes for the use of the annual influenza vaccine and WHO encourages countries to develop a policy, within their influenza pandemic preparedness plan, for antiviral drug use; and 3) WHO should develop guidelines that can be easily adapted for countries to use as a tool to develop influenza disease and cost burden assessment studies.