Seventh Meeting of National Influenza Centres and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions
12 - 15 November 2013, Beijing, China
The WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) is a network of six WHO Collaborating Centres, four WHO Essential Regulatory Laboratories and 141 institutions in 111 WHO Member States, which are recognized by WHO as National Influenza Centres (NICs), and ad hoc groups established to address specific emerging issues. 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.
The Asia Pacific region is considered one of the world's epicentres for the emergence of novel (pandemic) influenza strains and hence has a strong impact on the global influenza public health agenda. The high densities of human populations, and swine and avian species is the core reason that the Asia Pacific is a hot spot of influenza interspecies transmission. For example, a large number of cases of human influenza A(H5N1) was reported from this Region over the past decade. Also, the majority of the seed strains used in the production of the seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines in the last 20 years originated from the Asia Pacific region. Most recently, avian influenza A(H7N9) emerged in China resulting in 132 human cases and 39 deaths between February and June 2013. For avian influenza A(H7N9), GISRS was crucial to facilitating technical guidance and support, virus sharing and characterization, and to supporting preparedness and response.
Influenza surveillance has been established in many countries in the Asia Pacific to support global surveillance efforts as well as national response and control efforts. Laboratory support through the GISRS in the Asia Pacific currently includes 21 NICs in 15 countries in the Western Pacific Region; 10 NICs in eight countries in the South-East Asia Region; and three WHO Collaborating Centres for Reference and Research on Influenza (one each in Australia, China and Japan). This system has been invaluable in virus sharing for further characterization and potential vaccine production as well as rapidly developing and sharing laboratory protocols.
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. At the Sixth Meeting of National Influenza Centres and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions in 2012, it was determined that there were many countries in the tropical and subtropical zones where subnational surveillance was not undertaken. It was agreed that countries and areas should explore opportunities for multicountry collaborations to maximize efforts and resource utilization. These efforts should also fit within the internationally accepted Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework endorsed by WHO.
The World Health Organization regional offices for the Western Pacific and South-East Asia, in partnership with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, propose to organize the Seventh Meeting of National Influenza Centres and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions to review the progress made by NICs and influenza surveillance systems, discuss lessons learnt from avian influenza A(H7N9) emergence, and share experiences of severe acute respiratory infections networks in the face of emerging diseases.
The objectives of the meeting are:
- to review progress of the National Influenza Centres and the influenza surveillance systems in the Western Pacific and South East Asia regions;
- to review preparedness and identify actions based on lessons learnt from the Avian Influenza A(H7N9) in early 2013 within the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) framework; and
- to share experiences of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) detection in the face of emerging infectious diseases.