WHO/Europe has been holding annual influenza surveillance meetings jointly with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) since 2011. This meeting brings together epidemiologists and virologists – the national influenza surveillance focal points – from 50 Member States to discuss national, regional and global surveillance related to seasonal influenza and novel influenza viruses, such as avian influenza A(H7N9). A key objective this year was to gain an overview of the wide variety of influenza surveillance systems for both mild and severe disease in order to improve the interpretation of data presented in regional bulletins to better track the timing and severity of influenza seasons.
Other main objectives of this meeting were to:
- provide a review of the 2013–2014 influenza season and an update on avian influenza A(H7N9);
- present new developments with respect to the Regional Office EuroFlu bulletin and the ECDC Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview;
- identify gaps and needs for support with respect to routine surveillance capacities as well as preparedness and response;
- discuss efforts to enhance country seasonal influenza vaccination programmes;
- discuss methodologies to estimate burden of disease due to influenza and to measure the impact of prevention programmes;
- maintain and strengthen collaboration and information sharing.
In addition to national influenza focal points, the meeting has been be attended by representatives from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, London, United Kingdom, the European Commission, the European I-MOVE, VENICE and EuroMoMo projects, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other involved international institutions.
Albania has been represented in this meeting by Dr Silvia Bino MD, PhD Ass. Prof. of Infectious Diseases-Head, Control of Infectious Diseases Department Institute of Public Health. Dr Artan Simaku, epidemiologist and Iris Hatibi, influenza virologist in Institute of Public Health have participated in the meeting as well.