Increasing influenza surveillance in the Pacific Island Region
Project funded by CDC
An influenza surveillance programme modelled on one already
operating in New Caledonia will soon be extended to six other
Pacific Island countries. They are the Cook Islands, Fiji
Islands, Guam, Palau, Tonga, and Wallis and Futuna. The
extension of the programme should begin early in 2006 after the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a
proposal from The Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN)
to increase influenza surveillance in the Pacific Island region.
Laboratory skills and facilities for testing for influenza will
be established in the six countries and the Pasteur Institute in New
Caledonia will strengthen its capacity for confirmatory testing.
The institute plays a pivotal role in the network, acting as a
confirmatory laboratory for other Pacific countries. This new
project will help PICTs better assess the influenza burden,
monitor influenza activity and develop potential prevention and
control strategies. It will also contribute to the global
surveillance of influenza.
At present, only two
countries in the PPHSN, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, are
able to carry out year-round laboratory-based influenza
surveillance. Most rely on
syndromic reporting of influenza (reporting of clinical cases by
health workers) and do not carry
out regular testing. Some laboratories have used rapid tests to
investigate influenza outbreaks, but the high cost of these
tests and lack of funding have prevented their continued use.
The project team are members of the PPHSN Influenza Specialist
Group — Dr Ian Barr from the World Health Organization
Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Dr
Alain Berlioz-Arthaud from the Pasteur Institute, New Caledonia,
and Dr Tom Kiedrzynski and Dr Narendra Singh from SPC.
SPC, as the focal point for the PPHSN Coordinating Body, will
administer the project which will be implemented in partnership
with the Pasteur Institute, WHO, and
other laboratory and training institutions in the region, such
as the Pacific Paramedical Training Centre (PPTC) in New
At present, the project is for one year only, but there is a
possibility that it will be renewed and extended to more Pacific
countries. Progress reports on the new project will be published
in future issues of Inform’ACTION.
Strengthened national influenza preparedness
Project funded by New Zealand
This project proposal was developed last June during the Second
Pacific Health Summit for Disaster Risk Management, organised by
the CDC PEHI project (a summary of this project was published in
issue 21 of Inform’ACTION). Since then, New Zealand has endorsed
the proposal and the project should start in early 2006.
PPHSN Coordinating Body Focal Point
Many thanks to the US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, New Zealand
and Australia for their support for PPHSN activities.