WHO Meeting on HIV, AIDS and STI Epidemiological Surveillance for Pacific Island Countries

News release

HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted infections are a growing public health concern in the Pacific. Although the present number of reported HIV infections in Pacific island countries remains low, there is a potential for increased transmission, given the significant number of sexually transmitted infections. In addition, communicable diseases such as dengue and influenza pose a continuing threat to the Pacific, and have the potential for outbreaks. Increase in international air travel, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lack of appropriate infrastructure in remote areas all contribute to the occurrence and rise of communicable diseases in the Pacific, including HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.

Most Pacific island countries have developed surveillance systems for HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. The Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN), which includes a disease surveillance networking system, was established in 1996 to link Ministries of Health with partner agencies. Nonetheless, many countries in the Pacific still require considerable support to enable the timely detection of diseases, and to effectively analyse and response to such diseases. There is therefore still a significant need to strengthen and improve the capacity and quality of surveillance and reporting mechanisms in the Pacific. WHO is therefore convening a Meeting on HIV, AIDS and STI Epidemiological Surveillance for Pacific Island Countries, 22-26 November, in Nadi, Fiji.

The five-day meeting will focus on finalizing draft technical guidelines in order to strengthen and improve STI, HIV/AIDS and other communicable disease surveillance and epidemiological information in the Pacific island countries. The meeting will also review existing surveillance systems and epidemiological information, define standards and target indicators for HIV, AIDS and STI surveillance and discuss appropriate methodologies and instruments for the use of epidemiological data.

The meeting will bring together 18 participants from 14 Pacific island countries with expertise in epidemiology and surveillance of HIV, AIDS, STI and other communicable diseases. There will also be nine representatives from agencies involved in strengthening disease surveillance in the Pacific, such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA), the Fiji School of Medicine and the Communicable Disease Network of Australia and New Zealand (CDN-ANZ).

For more information, contact Mr Charles Raby, Public Information Officer at (632) 528 9983 or email: rabyc@wpro.who.int