Strengthening capacity for sentinel influenza surveillance in Tajikistan

Since 2014, PIP Partnership Contribution funds have been used to finance the WHO Regional Office for Europe’s collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population to support the development and implementation of measures to strengthen and expand national capacity for influenza surveillance and control. In particular, a pilot system for the surveillance of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) was implemented at two sites in Dushanbe in March 2016. Although there had been previous efforts to establish sentinel surveillance in Tajikistan, in effect sentinel influenza surveillance was not operational when the pilot started. 

Recently, in connection with the start of the 2016/2017 influenza season, a mission team from the Regional Office visited Dushanbe from 3 to 7 October to evaluate the pilot sentinel influenza surveillance system. The team used the Regional Office’s ILI and SARI Sentinel Site Assessment Tools, and conducted a medical record review.
While some minor recommendations were made to further strengthen the operation of the system, the mission showed that sentinel influenza surveillance is now operating very well in Tajikistan. An example of this is that data from Tajikistan’s sentinel sites are now reported to WHO and are thus available in the joint WHO Regional Office for Europe/ECDC weekly Flu News Europe Bulletin. 

Compliance with case definitions and standard surveillance procedures is high at both surveillance sites. Surveillance is well managed both at the surveillance sites and at the national level, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the site surveillance coordinators, the laboratory staff and the staff at the Sanitary Epidemiological Surveillance Service.
This pilot has been an excellent first step towards establishing sentinel influenza surveillance in Tajikistan, and the next step will be the development and implementation of an electronic data management system. 

The next evaluation is recommended to take place during the first half of 2017, with a view to advising about a possible expansion of the system.