Investment in data management pays off: PIP priority countries prepared to publish an influenza bulletin during the upcoming season

In June 2017, a 4-day workshop on data interpretation and influenza bulletin generation took place in St Petersburg, Russian Federation. The Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Partnership Contribution implementation fund supported the event.

It followed up on a 3-day workshop on influenza data analysis and bulletin generation held in Tbilisi, Georgia, in November 2016. The 2017 workshop aimed to further strengthen the capacity of the 5 PIP priority countries of the WHO European Region (Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) to generate weekly influenza surveillance bulletins.

These countries are in the process of introducing electronic influenza surveillance data management systems. Many of these systems include the capacity for automated data analysis and bulletin generation. This capacity, combined with the training received in the workshops, should enable PIP priority countries to regularly generate high-quality influenza bulletins, starting in the 2017/2018 influenza season. This will greatly strengthen the capacity for dissemination and use of influenza surveillance data, particularly by decision-makers.

Workshop participants included key professionals involved in influenza bulletin generation from each of the 5 countries, as well as the Russian Federation and Ukraine. They gained experience in interpreting data, using epidemic thresholds, selecting outputs for inclusion in a bulletin, and writing key public health messages based on these outputs for inclusion in a bulletin.

Participants also developed a model influenza bulletin using their own surveillance outputs, and developed a plan for its use and dissemination in their countries. They expressed their appreciation for the knowledge and experience that the workshop offered.