Tajikistan applies lessons learnt to improve national pandemic preparedness

Recent infectious disease outbreaks, including the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009, have demonstrated that some countries are not ready to confront a full-fledged pandemic. Following WHO recommendations, Tajikistan used the lessons learnt during the 2009 pandemic to revise the country’s National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan and improve the national preparedness and response to acute respiratory infections.

Working with the State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Service of the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan, WHO and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) contributed to this effort through the German Pandemic Preparedness Initiative (PPI). Revision of the Plan involved collaboration between an inter-ministerial working group and WHO and UNICEF experts. Further joint activities to facilitate implementation of the Plan included a training course and a simulation exercise.

Implementation

A four-day training on implementation of the National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan at subnational level was organized 27 February to 2 March 2013 for heads of State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Centres (SSESC), heads of hospitals and heads of primary health care facilities from the four regions of Tajikistan plus Dushanbe-city, as well as experts from the institutions involved in the National Antiepidemic Task Force (scientific institution and laboratory).

The training helped participants prioritize components of the plan, perform gap analyses and consider operational steps. Among the topics discussed were risk assessment, risk communication, health services planning, effective use of resources, the infectious disease epidemiological situatuation and possible threats.

After the training, a simulation exercise was held allowing stakeholders to practice responding to a theoretical outbreak. The simulation helped to test the practicability of the plan and fed back into the planning process in Tajikistan.

Ongoing support

WHO continues to support implementation of the Plan and to strengthen national and regional capacities to detect and respond to outbreaks of severe acute respiratory infections. A mission to further strengthen national and regional outbreak response capacities and pandemic plan implementation will take place in October 2013.