Six influenza specialists from WHO European Region were supported by WHO to participate in the ‘Options IX for the Control of Influenza’ conference

WHO

Every 3 years, the International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases holds the largest international conference on influenza prevention, control and treatment, including seasonal influenza and pandemic preparedness. The Options IX for the Control of Influenza Conference was held on 24–28 August 2016 in Chicago, United States of America and included many international influenza specialists.

To foster the active involvement of influenza specialists from the Flu News Europe network , WHO/Europe arranged for 6 participants from Greece, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Slovenia to hold poster sessions to share their countries’ results. Their participation was funded under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework.

Angeliki Melidou, from the National Influenza Centre (NIC), Thessaloniki, Greece, stated that her participation “was exceptionally useful […] due to its content, but also due to the opportunity of networking with other colleagues, virologists, clinical scientists and scientists in the public health sector.”

Likewise, Artem Fadeev, from NIC, Saint Petersburg, the Russian Federation, added that it “was a great opportunity to meet world-leading specialists in influenza research and to discuss not only scientific problems, but also some technical aspects that can improve the performance of our lab work.”

Katarina Prosenc, from NIC, Slovenia , agreed with her colleagues on the value of networking, adding that it was a “very comprehensive and state-of-the-art meeting that […] covered practically all fields and levels of influenza from pure virology, clinical aspects, diagnostics, public health [and] management”.

In coordination with the Conference, the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) also conducted a side meeting, which focused on:

  • updating meeting participants with the latest developments of science, technology and policies most relevant to the development of GISRS surveillance, preparedness and response;
  • strengthening collaboration, communication and networking among NICs, WHO collaborating centres and WHO essential regulatory laboratories; and
  • promoting the global coordination role of the WHO global influenza programme on influenza surveillance, preparedness and response in light of the upcoming 65th anniversary of GISRS in 2017.