Emerging disease surveillance and response

Sixth Meeting of National Influenza Centres and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions

29 to 31 May 2012

Background

The WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) gathers and analyses information on the appearance of novel strains of influenza virus. It also collects and collates data on circulating strains of influenza viruses, which enables WHO to recommend twice annually the content of the influenza vaccine for the subsequent influenza season.

Between 1998 and 2010, more than 76% of the virus isolates selected for influenza vaccine strains was provided by GISRS members in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions. However, despite the major contributions to the global vaccine composition effort, seasonal influenza vaccination programmes have been limited to a few countries and areas in these Regions. Most countries and areas of the Regions either do not have an influenza vaccination policy or have a policy but do not publicly fund influenza vaccination programmes. The lack of seasonal influenza vaccine policies has been due in part to the lack of evidence of the burden of influenza-related disease and the lack of data needed to inform other technical issues related to influenza vaccine introduction (e.g. timing of immunization, groups to be targeted).

With the purview of supporting global surveillance efforts and of supporting national response and control efforts, influenza surveillance has been established in many countries in WHO’s Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions. The GISRS currently includes 21 National Influenza Centres (NICs) in 15 countries in the Western Pacific Region and 10 NICs in eight countries in the South-East Asia Region. This strong network is supported by three WHO Collaborating Centres for Reference and Research on Influenza in the Western Pacific Region: one each in Australia, China and Japan. In addition to establishing surveillance, special study areas to fill specific data gaps have been identified in influenza research agendas in the Regions, and some special studies have been conducted.

To continue to strengthen surveillance and address knowledge gaps, countries need to review their influenza surveillance systems to ensure that the breadth and quality of data collected meet their public health needs for detection, response and disease control policy development. As recommended from the Fifth Meeting of National Influenza Centres in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions in 2011, countries should also consider special studies, as necessary, to fill gaps in data required for the development of influenza vaccine introduction policy, and explore opportunities for multi-country collaborations to maximize efforts and resource utilization.

The World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific will organize the Sixth Meeting of National Influenza Centres and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions to develop a checklist for the minimum requirements for comprehensive influenza surveillance, in line with the five-year plan (2012–2016) for national influenza surveillance; to review the draft influenza research agenda and discuss the role of the GISRS in providing such data for vaccine policy development; and to initiate multi-country collaborations for the development of scientific manuscript(s) to document current influenza vaccine use and to provide epidemiological details to guide future influenza vaccine use in the Regions.


The objectives of the meeting are:

  • to develop a checklist for the minimum requirements for comprehensive influenza surveillance in line with the five-year plan (2012—2016) for national influenza surveillance;
  • to review the draft influenza research agenda and discuss the role of the GISRS in providing research data for vaccine policy development; and
  • to initiate multi-country collaborations for the development of scientific manuscript(s) to document current influenza vaccine use and to provide epidemiological details to guide future influenza vaccine use in the Regions.
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