PIP PC - Stories from the field
Uganda's first national deployment and vaccination plan for pandemic influenza vaccines
As part of a technical workshop aimed at linking activities in the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), the Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan (IPPP), and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Plan, participants developed the Republic of Uganda’s first national deployment and vaccination plan for pandemic influenza vaccines.
The workshop, held 31 July to 5 August 2019, in Entebbe, drew on a variety of disciplines and included a WHO table-top PIP deployment simulation exercise. Participants also identified key activities to ensure greater readiness for the deployment of medical countermeasures and vaccination operations in Uganda, in the event of a pandemic.
By the end of the workshop, Uganda had successfully generated its first draft of its National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccines (NDVP), with input from key stakeholders. In order to synergize Uganda’s investment in health security preparedness, key activities in the NVDP were successfully linked with activities identified in the NAPHS, IPPP and EVD plans.
This first draft will pass through additional technical reviews and will be updated based on lessons learned from simulation exercises before receiving high-level approval.
Bi-regional National Influenza Centre meeting in the 'Land of blue sky'
Influenza experts in the Asia Pacific met for the 13th bi-regional meeting of National Influenza Centres (NICs) and Influenza Surveillance in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia Regions. The meeting took place from 21-23 August in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, known as the “Land of Blue Sky.” Approximately 130 people from 26 countries participated.
“We are united in our job of protecting the health of our populations,” said Ms. Sarangarel Davaajantsan, the Minister of Health of Mongolia, in her opening remarks. “Today we are here to discuss how we can serve our populations by taking measures to prepare for and prevent the emergence of an influenza pandemic.”
The meeting highlighted the value of using multiple sources of information for influenza risk and severity assessments, as well as response decision-making. This allows countries to further streamline their surveillance systems in the face of sustainability challenges, to focus on core systems and to generate information for decision-making. In Cambodia for example, with its tropical climate, the syndromic surveillance data alone did not clearly show seasonality; however, the composite indicator of syndromic data and laboratory positivity did successfully reveal sharper trends and seasonality. Mongolia, having suffered severe influenza epidemics in recent years, identified multiple parameters to monitor severity and aims to begin implementing severity assessments to guide preparedness and response efforts.
Now, a decade on from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the meeting also highlighted pandemic preparedness as a driving force to advance health security systems. Timor Este shared their recent experiences in developing their national pandemic preparedness plan, which was integrated with the National Action Plan for Health Security. The plan also incorporated recommendations of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Joint External Evaluation (JEE). Countries shared how they use response planning to identify gaps in systems and prioritize efforts to further strengthen capabilities to address influenza epidemics and pandemics. They also presented successful implementation examples of the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies’s two-tier approach.
Participants later brainstormed priorities for the coming 5 years to strengthen national influenza systems as well as global and regional collaboration, applying the “back-casting” approach: Establishing the vision, then looking back to effectively prioritize actions to achieve the vision.
The meeting strengthened networks and friendships and re-enforced the valuable contributions of the annual bi-regional meetings of NICs and Influenza Surveillance to strengthening global and regional collaboration. It highlighted its importance as a solid foundation for collectively monitoring, preparing for and responding to influenza epidemics and pandemics, and other health security threats in the Asia Pacific Region and beyond.