Every year, influenza illness causes a substantial disease and economic burden throughout the world. Influenza often causes epidemics, and influenza pandemics are unpredictable but unavoidable events.
Enhancing influenza surveillance is the key to a better understanding of the impact of influenza epidemics and pandemics and implementing measures to limit or prevent them. The emergence of MERS-CoV in the Region in 2012 serves as a stark reminder that novel respiratory viruses will continue to appear and present risks to national, regional and global health security. Participants at the meeting agreed that a vision for the future would be to build on progress achieved in the quality and effectiveness of epidemiological and virological surveillance systems for influenza in the Region by maintaining existing platforms for influenza surveillance, in order to detect and monitor threats from novel or emerging influenza viruses and other respiratory pathogens. This would include the timely sharing of data for public reporting and better use of surveillance data. Such evidence bases are necessary to make informed policy decisions to improve preparedness for and response to influenza epidemics and pandemics.
Participants also called for the finalization of the terms of reference, mandate and functions of the EMARIS network, and for the identification of ways to support countries to further enhance their influenza surveillance systems and to share their scientific achievements and progress.
Articles about EMARIS 2017 conference can be found here.